Title: The role of topography, canopy gaps, and forest edges in the distribution of windthrow damage in the Western Tatra Mountains, Poland


Geographia Polonica Vol. 92 No. 2 (2019)



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Windthrows are ubiquitous in forest environments, and they lead to many ecologic, pedologic, and geomorphic consequences. The distribution of wind damage is not uniform, and may be controlled by many factors. This study examines the role of topography, canopy gaps, and forest edges in the distribution of windthrow damage within the Polish part of the Western Tatra Mountains (121.7 km2 ). A set of aerial photographs was used to map windthrows created in 4 different periods: before 2009, 2009-2012, 2012-2014, and 2014-2015. GIS mapping, image classification, and t-test were applied to analyze the data. Among all topographic characteristics, the highest diversification of windthrow distribution was observed in the case of aspect, which was probably connected with different wind directions in analyzed periods. Slope and elevation also controlled damage distribution, mainly by a decreased damage within the steepest slopes and the highest elevations. Canopy gaps did not influence damage distribution significantly. Forest edges, particularly those created by recent windthrow, were the most important factor influencing the distribution of wind damage.


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