Natural disturbance-based silviculture (NDBS) has been suggested as an approach for promoting late-successional forest characteristics and maintaining native biodiversity in managed forests. Harvest gaps based on the natural disturbance patterns found in the upper Great Lakes (46 study gaps) were created throughout northern hardwood forests in northeastern Minnesota, USA, during the winters of 2002 and 2003. Gaps were measured 6- and 7-years post-treatment and subsequent analysis of these measurements was used to evaluate the success of these treatments at meeting structural and compositional objectives.
Results indicated that these gaps have done little to increase tree diversity, including the recruitment of shade mid-tolerant species; however, the richness of herbaceous understory vegetation has responded positively to larger gap sizes. Herbaceous species increasing in harvest gaps included Actaea spp. L. (baneberry), Botrychium virginianum L. (rattlesnake fern), Mertensia paniculata Aiton (Northern bluebell), Rubus idaeus L. (red raspberry), Sanguinaria canadensis L. (bloodroot) and Cirsium arvense L. (Canada thistle). Results also indicated that subtle patterns were found among species spatial establishment within gaps (e.g., gap edge and gap center) and species that expressed no preference between the intact forest and harvest gaps. Levels of downed coarse woody debris (CWD) differed among gap size and all gaps had lower levels of CWD compared to the surrounding intact forest.
Due to the historical importance of Betula alleghaniensis in these systems, the factors affecting the recruitment of this species were also investigated. Based on these investigations, it was found that B. alleghaniensis establishment was strongly related to highly decayed, large coniferous pieces of CWD with little recruitment occurring on the undisturbed forest floor. As such, providing appropriate seedbed conditions for shade mid-tolerant species and utilizing natural canopy gap sizes would improve the success of maintaining this species on the landscape.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2010. Major: Natural resources science & Management. Advisor: Anthony W. D’Amato. 1 computer file (PDF): viii, 71 pages, appendix A.
Bolton, Nicholas William.
The influence of natural disturbance-based silviculture treatments on northern hardwood forests in Northeastern Minnesota, USA..
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