Forest naturalness is closely related to structural diversity of forest stands. Deadwood is important for maintenance of biodiversity. Tree mortality as a natural process generates a constant flow of deadwood in forest ecosystems and is a structural driver for ecosystem components. Forest naturalness indicators include deadwood volume, deadwood decay classes, size of large trees, tree species composition, canopy closure, specific epiphytic lichen, moss, and herb layer species as well as other characteristics. Disturbance events and competition cause tree mortality and these results in continuous input of deadwood (e.g. coarse woody debris-CWD) in a forest stand. Deadwood has immediate and complex effects on the microsite environment experienced by surviving or newly germinating seedlings. Blocking the sun can reduce drought stress and increase seedling survival on sandy sites while reducing growth by shading on other sites where water is not limiting. Deadwood may also physically obstruct the herbivores to eat seedlings. During decay process deadwood can develop a seedbed for germination that may differ from surrounding soils in temperature, water holding capacity, and penetrability for roots. CWD dynamics (size, decay class, position in the stand) depend on tree species and mortality causes. The amount of deadwood in a natural forest depends on several factors: the fertility of the site, the decaying process of dead trees and disturbances which have effects on the mortality rates and patterns of trees.
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