Ken Olaf Storaunet

Research Professor

(+47) 902 32 668
ken.olaf.storaunet@nibio.no

Place
Ås H8

Visiting address
Høgskoleveien 8, 1433 Ås

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Abstract

Knowing the historical variation in fire regimes is instrumental in managing forests today and in predicting what may happen in the future. By cross-dating 745 fire scars in 378 samples of remnant Scots pines, we delineated 254 individual forest fires during the past 700 years in a 74-km2 section of Trillemarka-Rollagsfjell Nature Reserve in south-central Norway. Fire sizes, numbers, burn rates, and frequencies were compared with historical climate proxies, vegetation maps, and written sources. The results revealed patterns consistent with a predominantly climate-driven fire regime up to 1625, followed by periods of strong anthropogenic influence that increased fire frequency during 1600–1700s and diminished fires during 1800–1900s. This was documented by an abrupt increase in number of small fires from the early 1600s that markedly shortened fire intervals from a median of 73 to 37 yr. This shift in fire frequency coincided with a sudden appearance of early-season fires from 1625 and onward. Whereas late-season burn rate increased with summer temperature, no such relationship was found for early-season fires. These results were corroborated by written sources that describe anthropogenic forest fires and slash-and-burn cultivation expanding with the increasing population from the late 1500s and subsequently diminishing due to increasing timber values during 1700–1800s. Whereas human activity strongly influenced the fire regime at multidecadal to centennial scales, it was the interannual variability in climate that triggered large fire events, especially during the pre-1625 period. Prior to 1625, the percentage of years with fire tripled from 7% during cold summers (10–12°C) to 21% during warm summers (14–16°C). Burn rate increased even more, from 0.01% to 1.3% for the same temperature intervals. Ecologically, the post-1625 period is remarkable in such a way that human activity, first by greatly increasing fire frequency and subsequently almost eradicating fires, possibly influenced the fire regime to such an extent that it may be unprecedented for millennia.

Abstract

Usnea longissima Ach. is a circumboreal epiphytic lichen draping tree canopies in moist coastal and mountainous forests. It is extinct from many European and North-American localities, presumably due to industrial forestry and air pollution, but still has a stronghold in parts of Scandinavia and U.S. and Canadian Pacific Northwest. In 2005/06 we used a comparative and retrospective approach to evaluate how present and historic tree and stand characteristics influenced the occurrence and abundance of the lichen (Storaunet et al. 2008). In 2012, we re-inventoried ten Norway spruce forest stands with 401 U. longissima-bearing trees and recorded changes in the number of U. longissima thalli. Seven of the stands had been experimentally, selectively logged 5–8 years before, where the lichen-bearing trees had been marked in the field and were avoided during the logging operation. Total number of lichen-bearing trees decreased slightly (2.9%), whereas the number of thalli had increased with 34%. Number of thalli increased more where the forest was open (low basal area, m2ha-1) whether or not the low tree density was caused by the logging events. At high tree densities the change in number of thalli was negligible. We suggest that selective logging, securing lichen-bearing trees, may be a viable management option to keep tree density from becoming too dense, thereby enhancing growth and establishment of U. longissima.

Abstract

Old trees represent key features of old-growth forests and are important elements for maintaining biodiversity. Due to extensive human exploitation of Fennoscandian boreal forests during several centuries, old Norway spruce trees have become exceedingly rare. We analysed 91 spruce trees in Trillemarka Nature Reserve, southern Norway, to investigate (1) the maximum age of living trees, (2) growth rates of different-age trees and (3) growth trends in very old trees. Increment cores were taken from trees in selected old-growth stands located at 700–850 m a.s.l. Twelve spruce trees had an estimated total age of >400 years, the oldest one being 529 years and presumably the oldest known still living Norway spruce in northern Europe. A negative relationship between growth rate (basal area increment) and total age was observed, being most distinct for growth rates at 126–275 years and less marked for early stage growth (26–75 years). Thus, high age apparently was related more to low growth rates at adult and old stages of life rather than at the earlier stage. Among the trees >400 years, many of them did not show growth decrease with advancing age, indicating that ageing did not reduce growth. We conclude that the maximum age of stand-forming Fennoscandian Norway spruce trees would be in the range of 500–600 years.

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Abstract

Fire is the most important ecological factor governing boreal forest stand dynamics. In low- to moderate-severity fires, the post-fire growth of the surviving trees varies according to fire frequency, intensity and site factors. Little is known about the growth responses of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) following fires in boreal forests. We quantified changes in tree growth in the years following 61 historical forest fires (between 1210 and 1866) in tree-ring series collected from fire-scarred Scots pine trees, snags and stumps in Trillemarka nature reserve in south-central Norway. Basal area increment 10 years pre-, 5 years post-, and 11-20 years post-fire were calculated for 439 fire scars in 225 wood samples. We found a slight temporary growth reduction 5 years post-fire followed by a marked growth increase 11-20 years post-fire. Beyond 20 years post-fire, the long-term tree growth declined steadily up to approximately 120 years. Our results indicate that recurring fires maintained high tree growth in remnant Scots pines, most probably due to a reduction in tree density and thus decreased competition.

Abstract

The mating system ofCapercaillie has been referred to as “exploded lek” because displaying males are spaced farther apart than on classical leks. However, inter-male distances and spacing behavior rarely have been quantified. In 2009–2011, we examined the spatial relationships of males on two leks in southeastern Norway by GPS satellite telemetry. Largely exclusive display territories (median 2 ha) surrounded the mating site, but the males spent most of the time displaying on smaller, well-defined display sites (median 182 m2) within their territories. When on their display sites, neighboring birds were spaced 64–212 m apart; decreasing to a minimum during the time of mating. Occasionally, males made long exploratory excursions (median 243 m) across the territories of neighbors, sometimes interacting with them at close distance (< 10m). During daytime, males resided solitarily in radially extending ranges within 1 km of the lek center, commuting to the lek either in the evening or morning by walking or flying, leaving in the morning mostly by walking. The distance from the lek center to night roosting trees and daytime resting areas decreased during the mating season. With interacting males and a spatial arrangement in-between that of classical leks and dispersed polygyny, the term “exploded lek” seems appropriate for the mating system of Capercaillie.

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Abstract

To better understand the historic range of variability in the fire regime of Fennoscandian boreal forests we cross-dated 736 fire scars of remnant Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) wood samples in a 3.6 km2 section of the Trillemarka-Rollagsfjell Reserve of south-central Norway. Using a kernel range application in GIS we spatially delineated 57 individual forest fires between 1350 and the present. We found a strong anthropogenic signal in the fire regime from 1600 and onwards: (i) infrequent variably sized fires prior to 1600 shifted to frequent fires gradually decreasing in size during the 1600s and 1700s, with only a few small fires after 1800; (ii) time intervals between fires and the hazard of burning showed substantial differences pre- and post-1600; (iii) fire seasonality changed from late- to early-season fires from the 1626 fire and onwards; and (iv) fire severity decreased gradually over time. Written sources corroborated our results, narrating a history where anthropogenic forest fires and slash-and-burn cultivation expanded with the increasing population from the late 1500s. Concurrently, timber resources increased in value, gradually forcing slash-and-burn cultivators to abandon fires on forest land. Our results strengthen and expand previous Fennoscandian findings on the anthropogenic influence of historic fire regimes.

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Abstract

This study combines tree-ring and charcoal data to explore possible drivers of the charcoal record and its spatial variation in a boreal Norwegian forest landscape. Peat and mineral soil samples were collected in a multiple site sampling approach and the amount of charcoal in the peat is related to fire history, Holocene climate variation, major shifts in the vegetation composition, and fuel availability. Dendrochronologic dating was used to reveal the fire history over the last 600 years with spatial and temporal accuracy, and AMS radiocarbon dating of 20 peat columns and their charcoal records from four peatlands was used to elucidate the fire history over the Holocene. The average amount of charcoal was about 2.5 times higher in the mineral soil than in the peat (270 versus 100 g/m², respectively), and there were considerable between- and within-site variations. There was no relationship between the age of a given peatland and its content of charcoal, nor between the amount of charcoal in a given peatland and in the neighboring mineral soil. Although most of the charcoal mass in the peatlands was found in parts of the peat columns originating from relatively warm climatic periods and from the period before the local establishment of Norway spruce (Picea abies), charcoal accumulation rates (per 1000 yr) were higher during cold climatic periods and similar before and after spruce establishment. Recent fires showed up to a low degree in the peat columns. On fine spatial scales (1–10 m), fuel quality and distribution together with fire behaviour throughout millennia are likely to be responsible for variations in the charcoal record. On the landscape scale (100–1000 m), the charcoal records were site-specifically idiosyncratic, presumably due to topography, distribution of fire breaks and fuel types, and human land use, coupled with long-term variations inherent in these factors.

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Abstract

Logging exceeded growth and timber trees were sparse in Norwegian forests in the early 1900s. Still, the forest canopy was lush green and characterised by large tree-crowns. This situation was referred to as the “Green lie” and was advocated by foresters throughout Scandinavia as an argument in favour of forestry practices based on clear-felling. Here we examine effects of past selective loggings on forest structure and composition in a spruce forest landscape using dendroecology and historical records. Our results show that forests that were selectively logged up to the early 1900s could be structurally heterogeneous with multi-layered canopies, varying degree of openness and continuous presence of old trees across different spatial scales. Because the past forests were not clear-felled, a diverse forest structure in terms of tree species composition and age and diameter distribution was maintained over time, which could enable forest-dwelling species to persist during the early phase following the loggings in the past. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in most modern managed forest landscapes in Scandinavia. A better understanding of the link between loggings in the past- and present-day forest structure and diversity will contribute to rewarding discussions on forestry methods for the future.

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Abstract

Historical reconstructions of past forest dynamics and stand structures have been used to establish reference conditions for managing present forest ecosystems. In this study we (1) developed and combined a suite of stand reconstruction techniques to describe past stand characteristics, and (2) applied these stand histories to evaluate the relationship between wood-decay fungi and forest continuity. Ten previous selectively logged stands of Norway spruce (<i>Picea abies</i> (L.) Karst.), in the middle boreal zone of southeastern Norway, were studied. We reconstructed stand structures during the 20th century using tree-ring series, growth patterns, age structures, and decay classification and datings of stumps and logs. All stands were selectively logged between 1890 and 1965, with a mean logging interval of 25 years. Harvested volumes (1900-1965) constituted 25-99% of present standing volumes and present volumes were 2.6-21 (median 4) times higher than the lowest estimated historic volumes. Dead wood was categorized into eight decay classes, where one is recently fallen, and eight is almost completely decayed. Six fungus species, assumed to indicate dead-wood continuity, were found on logs in decay classes 2-4, all of which were estimated to be<30 years old. Logs in decay classes 1-4 constituted 85% of logs &#62;&#61;20 cm. Expectedly, fungus abundance increased linearly with increasing number of available logs, but we failed to find a positive correlation between fungi abundance and number of old logs present (decay classes 5-8), when the effect of younger logs (2-4) was accounted for. This finding, together with the stand histories, does not lend support to the hypothesis that a continuous supply of dead wood, at the scale of forest stands, is crucial for the occurrence of the surveyed wood-decay fungi. We propose forest stand reconstructions to hold promise as a tool to assess the role of structural continuity for the occurrence of late-successional and old-growth species

Abstract

Coastal spruce forests of central Norway harbour a unique assemblage of epiphytic lichens and are given high priority with respect to conservation of biodiversity. To assess the historical impact of logging during the last 100-150 yrs, 31 remnant stands were studied by means of tree-ring analysis of 2199 trees and the decay stage of 1605 stumps. No stands had been clear-cut, but all had been selectively logged at least twice during the last 150 yrs. Total harvested timber volurne ranged from 65 to 409 m3ha-1 (31-124 % of present-day standing volume) and the selective logging kept standing volume low (40-200 m3ha-1) during 1890-1930. Present-day stand characteristics were strongly correlated with site productivity and topographic position within the ravine valleys. Low amounts of dead wood at sites with high historical logging activity was the only consistent relationship found after covariance of site productivity, topographic position and deciduous trees were taken into account. The results indicate that old-growth stand characteristics, such as reversed J-shaped age distributions and dead wood in advanced decay ciasses, can be obtained 100-150 yrs after intensive selective logging.