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Challenges facing gap-based silviculture and possible solutions for mesic northern forests in North America


Julia I. Burton
Patricia Raymond
Anthony W. D'Amato
William S. Keeton
Michael B. Walters
Christopher R. Webster
John L. Willis



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Forestry 90: 4-17.


Gap-based silvicultural systems were developed under the assumption that richness, and diversity of tree species and other biota positively respond to variation in size of harvest-created canopy gaps. However, varying gap size alone often does not meet diversity objectives and broader goals to address contemporary forest conditions. Recent research highlights the need to consider site factors and history, natural disturbance models, within-gap structure and recruitment requirements in addition to light resources for desired tree diversity. This synthesis brings together silvicultural developments and ecological literature on gap-based management, highlighting interactions with other factors such as microsite conditions, non-tree vegetation and more. We pose a revised concept for managers and researchers to use in prescriptions and studies focused on integrated overstory and understory manipulations that increase structural complexity within and around canopy openings.


Kern, Christel C.; Burton, Julia I.; Raymond, Patricia; D'Amato, Anthony W.; Keeton, William S.; Royo, Alejandro A.; Walters, Michael B.; Webster, Christopher R.; Willis, John L. 2017. Challenges facing gap-based silviculture and possible solutions for mesic northern forests in North America. Forestry 90: 4-17. doi:10.1093/forestry/cpw024


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