Rihtemetsa Biodiversity Forest (RIBIF)
Rihtemetsa Biodiversity Forest is a 8-ha patch of old forest, situated in a typical production forest landscape and isolated from other old stands by clear-cuts, roads and younger stands in eastern Estonia (58°15’N; 27°24’E). Since 2009, it has been used as an experimental polygon for two main research issues: (i) in-depth studies of tree-scale processes, notably microhabitat and epiphyte dynamics, and their causal mechanisms; (ii) developing field methods for conservation inventories and management assessments. This is achieved based on a comprehensive background dataset on the condition, microhabitats and epiphyte data from ca. 4000 woody structures (live and dead trees, stumps, windthrows) mapped and regularly monitored in two 2-ha sample plots.
The forest has a clear-cutting origin (logged ca. 1910), and has been managed in its mature phase by selection fellings removing ca. 15% of overstorey trees in two separate harvests. It comprises three subcompartments, which form a distinct north–south gradient from deciduous forest on the seasonally wet Dryopteris site to spruce forest on the meso-eutrophic Oxalis site. The northern subcompartment has an overstorey dominated by Alnus glutinosa (50%) and Tilia cordata (20%), with a subcanopy of mostly late-successional deciduous trees such as T. cordata, Ulmus glabra and Acer platanoides. The tree layer in the central subcompartment is dominated by Populus tremula (55%), Betula spp. (20%) and Picea abies (25%) and a dense subcanopy of P. abies. The southern subcompartment is dominated by P. abies with a few Betula spp. The forest is impacted by severe dieback Fraxinus excelsior, with half of the population killed between 2009 and 2013.
- cost-effective estimation of biodiversity values of retention trees from tree characteristics;
- transplantation as a conservation tool for rare lichens suffering from ash dieback;
- cryptogam dispersal by animal vectors;
- monitoring population dynamics of calicioid fungi and their microhabitats;
- the role of microclimate in explaining the distribution of shade-tolerant lichens within forest.
PhD projects involved
- Kadri Runnel “Wood-inhabiting fungi as targets and tools in ecosystem management“
 Lõhmus, P., Leppik, E., Motiejunaite, J., Suija, A., Lõhmus, A. 2012. Old selectively cut forests can host rich lichen communities – lessons from an exhaustive field survey. Nova Hedwigia 95: 493-515.
 Lõhmus, A., Suija, A., Lõhmus, P. 2013. Intensive local surveys can complement rapid survey techniques to provide insights into the population size and ecology of lichenised fungi. Fungal Ecology 6: 449–452.
 Lõhmus, A., Runnel, K. 2014. Ash dieback can rapidly eradicate isolated epiphyte populations in production forests: a case study. Biological Conservation 169: 185–188.
 Lõhmus, A., Leppik, E., Suija, A., Lõhmus, P. 2012. From rapid surveys to population estimates of inconspicuous organisms: estimating survey bias for forest lichens. Oral presentation at the 3rd European Congress of Conservation Biology, Glagow, UK, 28 August–1 September 2012. [online abstract book]
Publicity [in Estonian]
- Käärt, U. 2012. Haruldane samblik pääseb uuele puule istutamisega. Eesti Päevaleht, 29.11.2012.
- Pau, M. 2013. Harv samblik jäi ümberistutusel ellu. Postimees Pluss.
RIBIF was established as a part of the conservation biology workpackage of the Centre of Excellence FIBIR (“Frontiers in biodiversity research”; 2008–2015) at the University of Tartu.
Photo 1. The deciduous forest in the northern compartment is in rapid change due to the European ash (Fraxinus excelsior) dieback. Photo: A. Lõhmus, 20 July 2011.
Photo 2. Dataloggers measuring year-round microclimates in lichen microhabitats: exposed tree trunks and shaded rootplates of treefalls compared. Photo: A. Lõhmus, 31 December 2012.
Photo 3. The local population of Neckera pennata exceeds 400 occupied trees. Photo: A. Lõhmus, 29 June 2011.
Photo 4. Preliminary field tests of lichen survey methods have been completed! From left: E. Leppik, P. Lõhmus, A. Lõhmus, J. Motiejunaite, A. Suija. Photo: A. Lõhmus, 29 June 2011.