Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 14, Issue 7, pp 1329–1340 | Cite as

Forest structure of a maple old-growth stand: a case study on the Apennines mountains (Southern Italy)

  • Pasquale A. Marziliano
  • Vittoria Coletta
  • Angelo Scuderi
  • Clemente Scalise
  • Giuliano Menguzzato
  • Fabio Lombardi


In Europe, very small forest areas can be considered to be old-growth, and they are mainly located in Eastern Europe. The typical structures of old growth forests infrequently occur in Mediterranean mountainous environments, since they have been affected by human activities for centuries. This study focused on a remote and almost pure Italian maple stand located in southern Italy, which has not been managed for long time due to its inaccessibility. The effects of natural evolution on the forest stand were evaluated through the analysis of the spatial and chronological structure and the regeneration patterns, then estimating the amounts and quality of deadwood occurrence. Across the whole stand, all the trees with DBH (diameter at breast height) larger than 50 cm (LLT, large living trees) were measured (DBH and height) and age was also determined through a dendrochronological approach. The diameters observed ranged between 50 and 145 cm with ages of 120 to 250 years. The Latham index calculated for trees within the sample plot highlighted a multilayered canopy with a dominant layer of large living trees (age > 120 years). The size-class distribution of stems had a reverse-J shape, and basal area was 52 m2 ha-1. Deadwood was exclusively constituted by standing dead trees and CWD and its volume was on average 31 m3 ha-1.

Pure Italian maple forests are generally rare in Europe, and it was unexpected to find a forest stand characterized by a so complex structure with old growth attributes. The study of complex forest stand, even if small, could give precious information on the forest evolution, clarifying also diverse auto-ecological traits of tree species that usually are not common in our forests.


Mediterranean mountainous ecosystems Natural evolution Stand characteristics Deadwood Unmanaged forests 


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We are grateful to the all anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the manuscript. This study was partially developed within the scope of research project LIFE+2013 “PAN LIFE Project - Natura 2000 Action Programme. Life+ Nature - 2013 - LIFE13 NAT/IT/001075.


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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pasquale A. Marziliano
    • 1
  • Vittoria Coletta
    • 1
  • Angelo Scuderi
    • 1
  • Clemente Scalise
    • 1
  • Giuliano Menguzzato
    • 1
  • Fabio Lombardi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AGRARIA. Loc. Feo Di VitoMediterranean University of Reggio Calabria.Reggio CalabriaItaly

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