Tree ring analysis as an indicator of environmental changes caused by tourist trampling — A potential method for the assessment of the impact of tourists
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Department of Natural Environment Sciences, University School of Physical Education, Al. Jana Pawła II 78, 31-571, Kraków, Poland
Institue of Nature Conservation Polish Academy of Sciences, Al A. Mickiewicza 33, 31-120, Kraków, Poland
Institute of Biology, Pedagogical University of Krakow, Podchorążych 2, 30-084, Kraków, Poland
Online publication date: 2014-10-01
Publication date: 2014-12-01
Geochronometria 2014;41(4):392-399
This paper shows that tree-ring trends might be used for the assessment of the intensity of trampling along touristic tracks in the forests. The study aims at determining the effects of trampling, on the dynamics of annual increments in trees subject to pressure from hiking tourism. The studies were conducted at a spruce stand in the Tatra Mts., on sections of different trails. Within each trail, four transects were determined. Transects include the zones with damage from trampling and the un-affected areas, treated as a reference zones. Selected trees growing in both zones were sampled by coring and the core samples were used to develop sequences of annual increment widths. Next, the dynamics of increments in trees growing in the tourist zone and the reference zone were compared. The decrease in the annual increments was significantly more rapid in trees growing directly along the trail that those in trees deep in the forest stand in one locality. This finding may testify the adverse effects of hiking along tourist routes on the radial increments in trees in the neighbourhood of the trails. The results of the study indicate that the impact of trampling in the form of soil compaction and mechanical damage to root systems of trees may, to some extent, be compensated by better light access and lessened competition experienced by trees growing along the edges of hiking trails. Tree-ring analyses might be an efficient alternative for assessment of tourism intensity conducted by the other methods.
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