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Single versus repeated human trampling events: Responses of ground vegetation in sub-urban beech forests

Citation

Rusterholz, Hans-Peter; Marion Weisskopf-Kissling, Marion; Baur, Bruno (2021), Single versus repeated human trampling events: Responses of ground vegetation in sub-urban beech forests, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vt4b8gtsg

Abstract

Forests provide important ecosystem services and are often the only natural areas that are freely accessible to the public for outdoor recreation. Large numbers of forest visitors can cause severe damage to forest ecosystems, which in turn can affect the ecosystem functioning. We aimed to assess whether experimental short-term and long-term trampling affect the ground vegetation in deciduous forests and its recovery to a different extent. We used a standard experimental trampling procedure to simulate single and repeated human trampling events of different intensity. Experimental trampling of different intensity was conducted on a single day (single trampling) or on five days at intervals of four weeks (repeated trampling) in three suburban beech forests on different soil types. We recorded the cover, height, species density and species composition of the ground vegetation in the trampling lanes. We also assessed the recovery of the ground vegetation one and two years after trampling.

Trampling intensity and the type of trampling (single vs. repeated) affected the ground vegetation in the three forests. Vegetation cover, plant height and species density all decreased with increasing trampling intensity, but to a different extent in the three forests. Most vegetation characteristics were more severely affected by repeated trampling than single trampling of equal intensity. A longer trampling period strengthened the effects of trampling on ground vegetation, except in one forest. Two years after experimental trampling, most vegetation characteristics still differed from those of undisturbed ground vegetation

Methods

We used a standard experimental trampling procedure to simulate single and repeated human trampling events of different intensity. Experimental trampling of different intensity was conducted on a single day (single trampling) or on five days at intervals of four weeks (repeated trampling) in three suburban beech forests on different soil types. We recorded the cover, height, species density and species composition of the ground vegetation in the trampling lanes. We also assessed the recovery of the ground vegetation one and two years after trampling.

Usage Notes

Within the data sets:

Four data files for each of the three study sites Allschwil, Liestal and Sissach:

For example for the field site Allschwil:

Allwschwil_Ground_Vegetation data includes trampling intensity, type of trampling on vegetation characteristics, and the data file Allwschwil_Ground_Vegetation includes data on changes in vegetation composition expressed as Euclidian distance. The files, which ended with the extension recovery, include the corresponding recovery data.

For more details, see Material and Method section in the article with the same title.

Funding

Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research, Award: C03.0030

Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research, Award: C03.0030