Sprouting response of an evergreen broad-leaved forest to a 2008 winter storm in Nanling Mountains, southern China
Wang, X.; Huang, S.N.; Li, J.X.; Zhou, G.Y.; Shi, L.
Ecosphere 7(9): e01395
A severe winter storm from January to February 2008 caused considerable damage to the Nanling evergreen broad-leaved forest. The sprout vigor of each species during postdisaster recovery plays a very important role in the succession trends of disturbed forests. In April 2008, four plots (50 x 30 m) were established in the Shierdushui Nature Reserve of Guangdong Province, China, to examine the damage status by the dominant species and diameters at breast height (DBHs), and the sprout response (indicated by the number of sprouts per stem) of the evergreen broad-leaved forest to the severe winter storm. In contrast with freezing damage, the percentage of trees killed by mechanical damage from the mass of snow and ice was significantly higher (10% vs. 90%). More than 70% of the total dead trees had DBHs less than 4 cm. The impact of the severe winter storm in the tree layer was much more serious than in the shrub layer. Stem bending killed the highest percentage of trees, accounting for 59.53% of the total number of dead trees. The sprout number per stem differed significantly among damage types. The more severe damage induced a higher sprout number. Without considering the damage extent, significant differences in the sprout response were also found at both the dominant species and family levels. The tree layer exceeded the shrub layer in the mean number of sprouts (35.87 vs. 15.92). A bivariate correlation indicated that the sprout response was positively related to DBH and annual stem radial growth of the mother trees, implying that DBH and the growth rate of plant species most likely control the sprout response to disturbance in the subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests in the Nanling Mountains, southern China.