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Direct and indirect disturbance impacts in forests

Cite this dataset

Bowd, Elle (2021). Direct and indirect disturbance impacts in forests [Dataset]. Dryad.


Human and natural disturbances are key drivers of change in forest ecosystems. Yet, the direct and indirect mechanisms which underpin these changes remain poorly understood at the ecosystem level. Here, using structural equation modelling across a 150+ year chronosequence, we disentangle the direct and indirect effects of major disturbances in a temperate forest ecosystem. We show that wildfires, logging and post-fire (salvage) logging can affect plant and microbial communities and abiotic soil properties both directly and indirectly through plant-soil-microbial interactions. We quantified 68 direct and indirect disturbance effects across these components, with the majority resulting in ecosystem-wide adverse effects. Indirect disturbance effects accounted for 43% of total disturbance effects, with some amplifying or partially mitigating direct disturbance effects. Overall, human disturbances were associated with more negative effects than natural disturbances. Our analyses provide novel insights into the multifaceted dynamics of forest disturbances and the mechanisms which underpin their relative impacts.


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Usage notes

Please see the below table for further detail on provided data
Variable (column)
Bacteria_chao1_0-10cm Chao1 diversity measures
Bacteria_chao1_20-30cm Chao1 diversity measures
Symbiotrophic_fungi_chao1_0-10cm Chao1 diversity measures
Symbiotrophic_fungi_chao1_20-30cm Chao1 diversity measures
Saprotrophic_fungi_chao1_0-10cm Chao1 diversity measures
Saprotrophic_fungi_chao1_20-30cm Chao1 diversity measures
All_fungi_chao1_0-10cm Chao1 diversity measures
All_fungi_chao1_20-30cm Chao1 diversity measures
Nitrate_0-10cm Nitrate nitrogen (mg/kg)
Nitrate_20-30cm Nitrate nitrogen (mg/kg)
Phosphorus_0-10cm Phosphorus (colwell) (mg/kg)
Phosphorus_20-30cm Phosphorus (colwell) (mg/kg)
Potassium_0-10cm Potassium (colwell) (mg/kg)
Potassium_20-30cm Potassium (colwell) (mg/kg)
Organic.carbon_0-10cm Organic carbon (%)
Organic.carbon_20-30cm Organic carbon (%)
pH (CaCl2)_0-10cm pH (CaCl2)
pH (CaCl2)_20-30cm pH (CaCl2)
Acacia (prop) proportion cover
Eucalyptus (prop) proportion cover
Tree (prop) proportion cover
Shrub (prop) proportion cover
Treefern (prop) proportion cover
Slope Slope (m)
Elevation Elevation (m)
Time_since_last_disturbance Time since last disturbance (years)
No.Fires Number of fires 
Clearcut logging 1=yes, 0=no
Salvage logging 1=yes, 0=no
Thinning 1=yes, 0=no