We evaluated ground-layer plant diversity and community composition in northern hardwood forests among uncut controls and stands managed with even-age or uneven-age silvicultural systems. Even-age treatments included diameter-limit cuttings (20-cm diameter at 30-cm stem height) in 1952 and shelterwood removals in 1964. Uneven-age treatments included three intensities of selection harvest (light, 20.6 m2
/ha residual basal area after harvest; medium, 17.2 m2
/ha residual basal area; and heavy, 13.8 m2
/ha residual basal area) that were applied in 1952, 1962, 1972, and 1982. All treatments were winter logged over snow pack. In 1991, plant diversity and community composition were examined. Species richness for spring ephemerals ranged from 1 to 6 species/150-m2
, spring ephemeral diversity (Shannon’s Index of Diversity) averaged 0.57 ± 0.04 and evenness averaged 0.45 ± 0.03. Summer flowering species richness ranged from 1 to 18 species/1-m2
, with an average diversity of 0.71 ± 0.07 and evenness of 0.42 ± 0.03.We found no significant differences among treatments for any of these variables, although power to detect a difference (at p
= 0.05) was low in all cases (0.15-0.55) due to high variance and low replication. Community composition was not significantly different among the treatments, for either spring (p
= 0.09) or summer (p
= 0.79) flora. Few exotic species were found in any treatment. Lack of exotic invasions and minimal differences in plant diversity or composition among treatments may be due, in part, to the negligible amount of soil disturbance that resulted from winter logging. While other (unmeasured) ecosystem components may differ among these silvicultural treatments, our results suggest that ground-layer plant communities in northern hardwood ecosystems are either resistant to change or have recovered within the 40 years since disturbance in the even-age treatments and within 10 years since disturbance in the uneven-age treatments.
herbaceous plant diversity
Kern, Cristel C.; Palik, Brian J.; Strong, Terry F. 2006. Ground-layer plant community responses to even-age and uneven-age silvicultural treatments in Wisconsin northern hardwood forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 230: 162-170.