Deadwood is an important component for conserving carbon stock and maintaining species diversity. Scarce information is, at present, available concerning the amount and composition of deadwood in Mediterranean-type ecosystems. In this study, 21 sites were chosen to characterize different forest types among representative managed and unmanaged stands in the Central Apennines (Molise, Italy). Data were collected to assess living tree and deadwood volumes, and the relative abundance of different deadwood components in decay classes. The information gathered was related to human-induced disturbances on a regional scale. There were substantial differences in the deadwood volumes between managed and unmanaged stands, although this was not the case in the living tree volumes. Deadwood volumes were larger in unmanaged than in managed stands. In particular, large amounts of deadwood were found in managed Mediterranean and Anatolian fir forests, probably due to minimal management practices. Dead downed trees were less represented in managed forests as they are normally removed to facilitate logging activities. Logs occurred more frequently in managed stands as logging residues left on site. Most deadwood material belonged to early decay classes. Proportionally larger amounts of deadwood ascribed to class 1 in managed stands correlated with recent cutting activities. The relatively large amounts of deadwood attributed in unmanaged stands to class 3 demonstrate its longer persistence in unmanaged forests. This study represents a first systematic analysis of deadwood occurrence in a typical Mediterranean forest area, and should be useful in defining important objectives for sustainable forest management.
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