The biodiversity of ecosystems around the globe is declining with the rate of around 0.01 % to 0.7 %. While the scientific communities cannot yet specify the common reasons or the consequences of such diversity loss, there is however a common understanding: “the successional state influences the sensitivity of ecosystems to the loss of diversity in case of climatic changes.” Also, ecosystems recovering from disturbances may be sensitive to even modest environmental shifts. As such, managed forest ecosystems are sensible to the loss of biodiversity. A possible tool for gathering information, whether the forest ecosystem can adapt to the future changes of its environment, despite the biodiversity loss, is forest genetic monitoring (FGM). Here we present a review of current concepts of FGM, which are based on decades of strategic documents directly or indirectly stressing the need to monitor genetic diversity as the basic component of biodiversity (e.g. UNCBD 1992; Strasbourg S2; Helsinki H2, Helsinki H4; Lizbona L2, aneks 1 in 2; Dunaj V4, Dunaj V5; Ferlin in sod. 2002; NGP 2007; Warszawa declaration 2007). A simplified FGM concept was proposed in order to reduce the costs of the FGM establishment and speed up its implementation, keeping in mind that FGM could be upgraded step by step in order to understand genetic data in relation to the forest ecosystem.
European crab apple (Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill.) is indigenous and relatively poorly studied tree species in Slovenia. Through detailed morphometric analysis, we examined 97 trees from 9 populations. Based on the most appropriate morphological characters for identification of European crab apple, hairiness of leaves and diameter of fruits, only 44% of 36 analyzed trees represented European crab apple. Other trees are potential hybrids of European crab apple (Malus %domestica Borkh.) or feral cultivars. Our results show that European crab apple is a rare and potentially vulnerable tree species in Slovenia. Reliable identification is the most important for successful preservation. The most appropriate traits for determination are hairiness of leaves (hairless leaves) and fruit diameter (equal or less than 35 mm). Typical are also yellow color of the fruit without red color. In order to successfully preserve European crab apple, more attention should be paid to cultivation measures. It is essential to provide verified and certified forest reproductive material.
In the presented case study, we aim to understand the impact of an irregular shelterwood system (ISS) on the genetic diversity of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) firstly by comparing managed stand to old growth beech forest and secondly by comparing two successive generations in both managed and old growth stands. Studies on European beech to date have not yet investigated the effect of ISS on its genetic diversity and have rarely addressed the effect of management on the genetic diversity of successive generations. The study was conducted in two mixed beech stands in Slovenia; the unmanaged Rajhenavski Rog old-growth European beech forest reserve and beech forest in Osankarica, managed according to ISS. All 140 sampled adult trees and saplings were genotyped at 16 nuclear microsatellite loci. ISS mimics genetic processes of the old growth rather well in the studied managed stand. The comparisons of diversity measures between managed and old growth stands did not reveal any significant differences between the two for any of the cohorts; the differences between the cohorts from the same stand were not significant. The observed significant shift in allele frequencies at four loci between successive generations could not be unambiguously attributed to management. Cohorts from the same stand had similar genetic structure, but six individuals from the managed stand formed a unique cluster. No convincing evidence of the effect of ISS on genetic diversity of the studied managed beech stand was found.