Canadian Forest Service Publications
Effects of single-tree and group selection harvesting on the diversity and abundance of spring forest herbs in deciduous forests in southwestern Ontario. 2008. Falk, K.J.; Burke, D.M.; Elliott, K.; Holmes, S.B. Forest Ecology and Management 255: 2486 - 2494.
Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 28631
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Selection harvesting, by mimicking natural disturbance regimes of eastern deciduous hardwood forests, has been applied as a sustainable management practice that combines wood production with biodiversity conservation. However, the effects of this technique on understory herbs are unclear, particularly for spring ephemerals which have been suggested as sensitive to disturbance. Here, we experimentally assess the immediate effects of single-tree and group selection harvesting on spring ephemeral richness, diversity and abundance in deciduous forests of southwestern Ontario, Canada. Spring herbs were quantified in 4 m2 plots before and one growing season after harvesting and compared to similar uncut, reference stands. The percent of species lost was significantly higher in reference than harvested plots. Mean species richness significantly increased after harvesting, predominately due to an increase in spring–summer species. Increases in the diversity of early spring flowering species were significantly greater in the group selection plots than reference plots. At the community level, no species appeared to be vulnerable to harvesting, and ordination analysis indicated that post-harvest communities were primarily determined by pre-harvest community composition. Furthermore, no species declined in abundance in response to harvesting, and overall percent cover increased proportionately more in single-tree selection plots than in group selection or reference plots. While harvesting appears to have negligible effects on spring ephemerals immediately following harvest, we recommend additional studies over longer time frames to assess possible successional effects and to discriminate treatment induced changes from naturally high yearly variation in species composition.