The effects of roadside on composition of tree communities in forests of West Guilan Province, Iran

Document Type: Research Paper


Department of Forestry, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Guilan, Sowmeh Sara, Iran



Forest roads are one of the main affecting factors on diversity and composition of plant species. This study aimed to investigate the effects of forest road on composition of tree communities of forests in west of Guilan Province, Iran. Therefore, in two age classes (0-10 and 10-20 years old) of forest roads with five different distances from the road edge, totally, 240 sample plots (150 square meters) were taken by line transect method. The results showed that the relative importance of Fagus orientalis, Quercus castaneifolia and Acer velutinum trees on roads with lower age (0-10 years old) was higher than those with higher age (10-20 years old). The results also indicated that on the newly-constructed roads, the presence of pioneer species (Alnus subcordata and A. cappadocicum) became lower than the other species by moving from the roadside into the forest. In this study, the species importance values of A. subcordata, A. cappadocicum, and A. velutinum decreased from roadside to the forest interior. The results also showed that the Simpson’s diversity and evenness indexin old roads were higher than the young ones. The results of ANOVA analysis showed that by increasing distance from the road, the species diversity and richness declined, while species evenness elevated. The results indicated that there are higher dead trees on the roadside (0-30 and 31-60 m) compared to the inside of forest.


Akay, AEO, Erdas, M & Yuksel, A 2008, Estimating sediment yield from a forest road network by using a sediment prediction model and GIS techniques. Building and Environment, 43: 687–695.

Avon, C, Bergès, L, Dumas, Y & Dupouey, JL 2010, Effect of forest road extend a few meters or more into the adjacent forest. A study on understory plant diversity in managed oak stands. Forest Ecology and Management, 259:1546-1555.

Barazmand, S, Shataei, SH, Kavosi, MR & Habashi, H 2012, spatial distribution of tree crown dieback and its relation with some environmental factors and road network. Journal of Wood and Forest Science and Technology, 19: 31-43 (In Persian).

Benitez, A, Alkemade, R & Verweij, PA 2010, The impacts of roads and other infrastructure on mammal and bird population: A meta-analysis. Biological Conservation, 143: 1307-1316.

Berenji Tehrani, F, Majnounian B & Abdi, E 2014, The impact of forest road on plant species diversity, organic matter and carbon content (Case study: Patom district of Kheyroud forest). Journal of Sustainable Development, 1: 102-112 (In Persian).

Berenji Tehrani, F, Majnounian, B, Abdi & E, Zahedi Amiri, G 2015, Impacts of forest road on plant species diversity in a Hyrcanian Forest, Iran. Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering, 36: 63–71 (In Persian).

Bergès, L, Chevalier, R & Avon, C 2013, Influence of forest road, road-surfacing material and stand age on floristic diversity and composition in a nutrient-poor environment. Applied Vegetation Science, 16: 470–479.

Bowering, M, LeMay, V & Marshal, P 2006, Effects of forest road on the growth of adjacent lodgepole pine trees. Journal of Forestry Research, 36: 919-929.

Coffin, AW 2007, from road kill to road ecology: A review of the ecological effects of roads. Journal of Transport Geography, 15: 396-406.

Delgado, JD, Arroyo, NL, Arevalo, JR & Fernández-Placios, JM 2007, Edge effects of roads on temperature, light, canopy cover, and canopy height in laurel and pine forests (Tenerife, Canary, and Islands). Landscape and Planning, 14p.

Deljouei A, Sadeghi, SMM, Abdi, E, Romermann, MB, Pascoe, EL & Marcantonio, M 2018, The impact of road disturbance on vegetation and soil properties in a beech stand, Hyrcanian forest. Journal of Forest Research, 29: 1-12.

Deljouei, A, Abdi, E, Marcantonio, M, Majnounian, B, Amici, V & Sohrabi, H 2017, The impact of forest roads on understory plant diversity in temperate hornbeam-beech forests of Northern Iran, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 189(8), p. 392.

Deljouei, AE, Abdi E, Majnounian & Sohrabi, H 2013, Do forest roads have significant effect on tree regeneration Case study: Hyrcanian Forest. Journal of  Forest and Wood Product, 3: 121-130(In Persian).

Ejtehadi, H, Sepehry, A & Akkafi, HR 2008, Methods of measuring biodiversity. Ferdowsi University Press, 228 p. (In Persian).

Enoki, T, Kusumoto, B, Shuichi Igarashi, S & Kazuki T 2014, Stand structure and plant species occurrence in forest edge habitat along different aged roads on Okinawa Island, southwestern Japan. Journal of Forestry Research, 19: 97-104.

Flory, SL & Clay, K 2006, Invasive shrub distribution varies with distance to roads and stand age in eastern deciduous forests in Indiana, USA. Plant Ecology, 184: 131-141.

Forman, RTT & Alexander, LE 2002, Roads and their major ecological effects. Annual Review of Ecology and System, 29: 207-231.

Fu, B. Newham, LTH & Field, JB 2009, Modelling erosion and sediment delivery from unsealed roads in southeast Australia, Mathematics and Computers in Simulation, 79: 2679–2688.

Ganesh, T, Ganesan, R, Devy, MS, Davidar, P & Bawa, K 1996, Assessment of plant biodiversity at elevation evergreen forest of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Current Science, 71: 379–392.

Gelbard, JL & Harrison, S 2003, Roadless habitats as refuges for native grasslands: interactions with soil, aspect, and grazing, Ecological Applications, 13: 404–415.

Harper, KA, Lesieur, D, Bergeron, Y & Drapeau, P 2004, Forest structure and composition at young fire and cut edges in black spruce boreal forest. Journal of Forestry Research, 34: 289-302.

Heshmati, GA 2007, Vegetation characteristics of four ecological zones of Iran. Journal of Plant Production, 1: 215–224 (In Persian).

Hill, MO 1980, Detrended correspondence analysis: an improved ordination technique. Vegetation, 42:47–58.

Hodkinson, DJ & Thompson, K 1997, Plant dispersal: the role of man. Journal of Applied Ecology, 34:1484–1496.

Hosseini, SA 2010, The effect of forest road clearing limit on regeneration composition. Agriculture and Biology Journal of North America, 1: 487-490 (In Persian).

Keller, I, Nentwig, W & Largiader, CR 2004, Recent habitat fragmentation due to roads can lead to significant genetic differentiation in an abundant flightless ground beetle. Molecular Ecology, 13: 2983–2994.

Krebs, CJ 1999, Ecological Methodology. Harper and Row, New York, 654 p.

Kubota, Y, Katsuda, K & Kikuzawa, K 2005, Secondary succession and effects of clear-logging on diversity in the subtropical forests on Okinawa Island, southern Japan. Biodiversity Conservation, 14: 879–901.

Laurance, WF 2000, Do edge effects occur over large spatial scales? Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 15: 134–135.

Li, YH, Hu, YM, Chang, Y, Li, XZ, Bu, RC, Hu, CH & Wang, CL 2010, Effect zone of forest road on plant species diversity in Great Hing’an Mountains Chinese. Journal of Applied Ecology, 21: 1112–1119.

Lotfalian, M, Riahifar, N, Fallah, A & Hojati, SA 2012, Effects of roads on understory plant communities in a broad-leaved forest in Hyrcanian zone. Journal of Forest Science, 58: 446–455.

Menhenick, EF 1964, A comparison of some species diversity indices applied to samples of field insects. Ecology, 45: 859-861.

Mirzaee, A 2004, The effect of road trees (Case Study: Forests Shastkalate Gorgan). MSc. thesis, University of Agriculture and Forestry, Gorgan, Iran, 100 p.

Murcia, C 1995, Edge effects in fragmented forests: implication for conservation. Ecology & Evolution, 10: 56-62.

Najafi, A, Torabi, M, Nowbakht, AA, Moafi, M, Eslami, A & Sotoudeh Foumani, B 2012, Effect of forest roads on adjacent tree regeneration in a mountainous forest. Biology Research, 3: 1700–1703 (In Persian).

Nepstad, DC, Tohver, IM, Ray, D, Moutinho, P & Cardinot, G 2007, Mortality of large trees and lianas following experimental drought in an Amazon. Forest Ecology, 88: 2259-2269.

Nikooy, M 2010, Residual trees injury assessment after selective cutting in broadleaf forest in Shafaroud. Caspian Journal of Environmental Sciences, 8: 173-179.

Olander, LP, Scatena, FN & Silver, WL 1998, Impacts of disturbance initiated by road construction in a subtropical cloud forest in the Luquillo experimental forest, Puerto Rico. Forest Ecology Management, 109: 33–49.

Olupot, W 2009, A variable edge effect on trees of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, and its bearing on measurement parameters. Biology Conservation, 142: 789–797.

Ozcelik, RA, Gul, AU, Merganic, J & Merganicova, K 2008, Tree species diversity and its relationship to stand parameters and geomorphology features in the eastern Black Sea region forests of turkey. Journal of Environment Biology, 29: 291–298.

Pauchard, A & Alaback, PB 2006, Edge type defines alien plant species invasions along Pinus contorta burned, highway and clear-cut forest edges. Forest Ecology and Management, 223: 327–335.

Picchio, R, Tavankar, F, Venanzi, R, Monaco, A & Nikooy, M 2018, study of forest road effect on tree community and stand structure in three Italian and Iranian Temperate Forests. Croatian Journal of Forest Engineering, 39: 57-70.

Pourbabaei, H & Abedi, R 2013, Plant species groups in Chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) sites, Hyrcanian forests of Iran. Ecology Balkanica, 5: 37–47 (In Persian).

Santos, BA, Barbosa, DA & Tabarelli, M 2008, Directional changes in plant assemblages along an altitudinal gradient in northeast Brazil. Bra. Journal of Biology, 67: 777–779.

Sefidi, K, Marvi-Mohajer, MR, Zobeyri, M & Etemad, V 2008, Investigation on dead trees effects on natural regeneration of oriental beech and hornbeam in a mixed beech forest. Iranian Journal of Forest Poplar Research, 15: 365-373 (In Persian).

Smith, B & Wilson, JB 1996, A consumer’s guide to evenness indices. Oikos, 76: 70–82.

Spooner, PG & Smallbone, L 2009. Effects of road age on the structure of roadside vegetation in south-eastern Australia, Agriculture Ecosystem Environment, 129: 57–64.

Tabarelli, M, Lopes AV & Peres, CA 2008, Edge-effects drive tropical forest fragments towards an early-successional system. Biotropica, 40: 657–661.

Tabarelli, M, Mantovani AW & Peres CA 1999, Effects of habitat fragmentation on plant guild structure in the montane Atlantic forest of southeastern Brazil. Biology Conservation, 91: 119–127.

Tarvirdizadeh, H, Nikooy, M, Pourbabaei, H & Naghdi, R 2014, Effects of road construction on biodiversity and composition of herbaceous species cover, Asalem forest, northern Iran. Forestry Ideas, 20: 157–169.

Tavankar, F 2015, Structure of natural Juniperus excelsa stands in Northwest of Iran. Biodiversitas, 16: 161–167.

Tavankar, F, Nikooy, M, Picchio, R, Venanzi, R & Lo Monaco, A 2017, Long-term effects of single-tree selection cutting management on coarse woody debris in natural mixed beech stands in the Caspian forest (Iran). iForest- Biogeosciences and Forestry, 39: 57–70.

Tavankar, F, Picchio, R, Lo Monaco, A & Bonyad, A 2014, Forest management and snag characteristics in Northern Iran lowland forests. Journal Forest Science, 60: 431–441.

Tavankar, F, Picchio, R, Nikooy, M, Lo Monaco, A, Venanzi, R. & Iranparast Bodaghi, A, 2017, Healing rate of logging wounds on broadleaf trees in Hyrcanian forest with some technological implications. Drewno, 60: 65-80

Valencia, R, Foster, RB, Villa, G, Condit, R, Svenning, JC & Hernández, C 2004, Tree species distributions and local habitat variation in the Amazon: large forest plot in eastern Ecuador. Journal of Ecology, 92: 214–229.

Wei, L, Villemey, A, Hulin, F, Bilger, I, Yann, D, Chevalier, R, Archaux, F & Gosseline, F 2015, Plant diversity on skid trails in oak high forests: A matter of disturbance, micro-environmental conditions or forest age? Forest Ecology and Management, 338: 20-31.

Zar, J 1984, Biostatistical Analysis. Prentice- Hall press, 718 p.

Zeng, SL, Zhang, TT, Gao, Y, Ouyang, ZT & Chen, JK 2011, Effects of road age and distance on plant biodiversity: A case study in the Yellow River Delta of China. Plant Ecology, 212: 1213–1229.

Zenner, EK, Fauskee JT, Berger, AL & Puettmann, KJ 2007, Impacts of skidding traffic intensity on soil disturbance, soil recovery, and aspen regeneration in North Central Minnesota. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry, 24: 177-183.