Skip to Main Content
Do natural disturbances or the forestry practices that follow them convert forests to early successional communities?Author(s): J. Stephen Brewer; Christine Bertz; Jeffery B. Cannon; Jason D. Chesser; Erynn E. Maynard
Source: Ecological Applications 22:442–458
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
PDF: View PDF (993.85 KB)
DescriptionStand-replacing natural disturbances in mature forests are traditionally seen as events that cause forests to revert to early stages of succession and maintain species diversity. In some cases, however, such transitions could be an artifact of salvage logging and may increase biotic homogenization. We present initial (two-year) results of a study of the effects of tornado damage and the combined effects of tornado damage and salvage logging on environmental conditions and ground cover plant communities in mixed oak–pine forests in north central Mississippi. Plots were established in salvage-logged areas, adjacent to plots established before the storm in unlogged areas, spanning a gradient of storm damage intensity. Vegetation change directly attributable to tornado damage was driven primarily by a reduction in canopy cover but was not consistent with a transition to an early stage of succession. Although we observed post-storm increases of several disturbance indicators (ruderals), we also observed significant increases in the abundance of a few species indicative of upland forests. Increases in flowering were just as likely to occur in species indicative of forests as in species indicative of open woodlands. Few species declined as a result of the tornado, resulting in a net increase in species richness. Ruderals were very abundant in salvage-logged areas, which contained significantly higher amounts of bare ground and greater variance in soil penetrability than did damaged areas that were not logged. In contrast to unlogged areas severely damaged by the tornado, most upland forest indicators were not abundant in logged areas. Several of the forest and open-woodland indicators that showed increased flowering in damaged areas were absent or sparse in logged areas. Species richness was lower in salvage-logged areas than in adjacent damaged areas but similar to that in undamaged areas. These results suggest that salvage logging prevented positive responses of several forest and open-woodland species to tornado damage. Anthropogenic disturbances such as salvage logging appear to differ fundamentally from stand-level canopy-reducing disturbances in their effects on ground cover vegetation in the forests studied here and are perhaps more appropriately viewed as contributing to biotic homogenization than as events that maintain diversity.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationBrewer, J. Stephen; Bertz, Christine; Cannon, Jeffery B.; Chesser, Jason D.; Maynard, Erynn E. 2012. Do natural disturbances or the forestry practices that follow them convert forests to early successional communities? Ecological Applications 22:442–458.
Keywordsbiotic homogenization, canopy gap, forest understory, ground cover vegetation, habitat specialist, Mississippi, USA, ruderal, salvage logging, soil disturbance, species diversity
- Effects of tornado damage, prescribed fire, and salvage logging on natural oak (Quercus spp.) regeneration in a xeric southern USA Coastal Plain oak/pine forest
- Natural canopy damage and the ecological restoration of fire-indicative groundcover vegetation in an oak-pine forest
- Woody regeneration in a Southern Appalachian Quercus stand following wind disturbance and salvage logging
XML: View XML