Skip to Main Content
Compositional stability of boreal understorey vegetation after overstorey harvesting across a riparian ecotoneAuthor(s): Rebecca L. MacDonald; Han Y.H. Chen; Samuel F. Bartels; Brian J. Palik; Ellie E. Prepas; Frank Gilliam
Source: Journal of Vegetation Science. 26(4): 733-741.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
View PDF (474.0 KB)
DescriptionQuestions: Understanding factors that contribute to the stability of an ecosystem following harvesting is central to predicting responses of boreal ecosystems to increasing human disturbances.While the response of understorey vegetation to harvesting is well understood for upland sites, little is known about compositional stability of riparian understorey vegetation. We examined how compositional stability changes with or without harvesting along an upland to streamside gradient and tested whether compositional stability is affected by pre-harvest species diversity and composition. Location: Lower Foothills sub-region of the Boreal Plain, ca. 20 km northwest ofWhitecourt, Alberta, CA. Methods: We repeatedly sampled understorey vegetation of four winter-harvested and four unharvested sites in western Canadian boreal forest. Species covers were measured during the summer prior to harvesting in 2003 (year 0) and in 2004, 2008 and 2010 (1, 5 and 7 yrs after, respectively). We used nonmetric multidimensional scaling to ordinate plots using species covers, and measured vector length in the ordination space to quantify floristic dissimilarity of each plot between year 0 and years 1, 5 and 7, an inverse measure of compositional stability. Results: Floristic dissimilarity between year 0 and subsequent years was significantly greater in harvested than unharvested sites for all subsequent sampling years. Furthermore, along the upland to stream gradient, floristic dissimilarity was larger on upland than stream sites. Additional analyses revealed that floristic dissimilarity was related negatively to pre-harvesting species richness and evenness, but positively to bryophyte cover. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that understorey compositional stability is strongly influenced by harvesting, and streamside communities are more stable than upland communities. Our results indicate that compositional stability of understorey vegetation in response to harvesting is associated positively with pre-disturbance species richness and evenness, but negatively with bryophyte dominance.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- 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.
CitationMacDonald, Rebecca L.; Chen, Han Y.H.; Bartels, Samuel F.; Palik, Brian J.; Prepas, Ellie E.; Gilliam, Frank. 2015. Compositional stability of boreal understorey vegetation after overstorey harvesting across a riparian ecotone. Journal of Vegetation Science. 26(4): 733-741.
Keywordsboreal forest, disturbance, diversity–stability hypothesis, riparian vegetation, succession, understorey plants
- Influence of harvesting on understory vegetation along a boreal riparian-upland gradient
- Effects of riparian zone buffer widths on vegetation diversity in southern Appalachian headwater catchments
- Understory vegetation and site factors : implications for a managed Wisconsin landscape
XML: View XML