Windthrow disturbance in central Europe.
Photo: John Boyle, University of Liverpool.
The Forest Dynamics working group was active from 2016 to 2019. Group members studied disturbances as a fundamental agent of forest ecosystem dynamics driving an array of ecological functions. Forests globally are subject to stresses that have penetrated public consciousness, e.g. fires in Indonesia, windstorms in central Europe and pathogens in northern America.
Targeted impacts on forests occur against a climate backdrop stressing plant communities. Interaction between different types of disturbance (fire, wind, pathogens) and the forest regime elements that characterise disturbances (frequency, severity, pattern) are poorly understood.
Disturbances in forests are a natural component of ecosystem function enabling renewal, species diversity and succession. Co-occurrence of multiple disturbance factors is a stimulus for the Forest Dynamics working group to better understand how disturbances modulate forest dynamics. Only by integrating data across shared spatial and temporal scales ranging from the tree (dendroecology) to region (sedimentary geochemistry and palaeoecology from forest hollows and lakes), and across differing processes (tree growth, community structure and landscape regime) can the Forest Dynamics working group better understand the character, impacts and frequency of natural and anthropogenic disturbances.