Recovery of forest structure and composition to harvesting in different strata of mixed even-aged central Appalachian hardwoods

Eric K. Zenner, Yvette L. Dickinson, Jerilynn E. Peck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Context: Implementing nature-based silviculture requires understanding the structural and compositional changes that occur in forested stands under known disturbance types and intensities. Aims: The objectives were to assess the (a) resistance of hardwood forests to change, (b) their trajectory of recovery following disturbance, and (c) how closely resulting forests resemble original forests. Methods: We characterized tree structure and composition at three points in time (pre-disturbance, 1-year post-disturbance, and ∼15 years following disturbance) along a harvesting disturbance gradient created by removing trees in different forest canopy strata. Results: Significant differences to pre-disturbance conditions were noted immediately post-harvest for tree basal area, density, species richness, and tree species composition; treatment differences were observed for all parameters except diversity. Plots exposed to the least extreme harvesting disturbances (cutting small and intermediate trees) had returned to pre-disturbance conditions for most parameters after 15 years, while the most extreme harvesting disturbance (cutting large trees) had not yet recovered. Conclusions: Although not initially resistant, Central Appalachian eastern hardwoods are fairly resilient to the removal of trees in the subcanopy or a mixture of the subcanopy and canopy; only the removal of solely canopy trees (i.e., high grading) and complete removal (i.e., clearcutting) appear to impose harvesting disturbances to which these forests may not be resilient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Forest Science
Volume70
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Ecology

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