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Effects of past logging and grazing on understory plant communities in a montane Colorado forest

Posted date: November 25, 2009
Publication Year: 
2009
Authors: Fornwalt, Paula J.; Kaufmann, Merrill R.; Huckaby, Laurie Kay Stroh
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Plant Ecology. 203: 99-109.

Abstract

Throughout Pinus ponderosa-Pseudotsuga menziesii forests of the southern Colorado Front Range, USA, intense logging and domestic grazing began at the time of Euro-American settlement in the late 1800s and continued until the early 1900s. We investigated the long-term impacts of these settlement-era activities on understory plant communities by comparing understory composition at a historically logged and grazed site to that of an environmentally similar site which was protected from past use.We found that species richness and cover within functional groups rarely differed between sites in either upland or riparian areas. Multivariate analyses revealed little difference in species composition between sites on uplands, though compositional differences were apparent in riparian zones. Our findings suggest that settlement-era logging and grazing have had only minor long-term impacts on understories of upland Front Range P. ponderosa-P. menziesii forests, though they have had a greater long-term influence on riparian understories, where these activities were likely the most intense.

Citation

Fornwalt, Paula J.; Kaufmann, Merrill R.; Huckaby, Laurie S., Stohlgren, Thomas J. 2009. Effects of past logging and grazing on understory plant communities in a montane Colorado forest. Plant Ecology. 203: 99-109.