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Forests 2013, 4(3), 537-552; doi:10.3390/f4030537
Article

Canopy Structural Changes Following Widespread Mortality of Canopy Dominant Trees

1,* , 2
, 3
 and 4
Received: 24 May 2013; in revised form: 28 June 2013 / Accepted: 2 July 2013 / Published: 8 July 2013
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Abstract: Canopy structure affects forest function by determining light availability and distribution. Many forests throughout the upper Great Lakes region are dominated by mature, even-aged, early successional aspen and birch, which comprise 35%–40% of canopy leaf area, and which are senescing at accelerating rates. In 2008 at the University of Michigan Biological Station, we initiated the Forest Accelerated Succession ExperimenT (FASET) by stem girdling all aspen and birch in replicated stands to induce mortality. Our objective was to understand type and rate of canopy structural changes imposed by rapid but diffuse disturbance consisting of mortality of a single age-species cohort. We characterized changes in canopy structural features in 2008–2011 using ground-based Portable Canopy Lidar (PCL) in paired treated and control stands. As aspen and birch in treated plots died, gap fraction of the upper canopy increased, average leaf height decreased, total canopy height declined, and openness of the whole-canopy increased. All of these trends became more pronounced with time. Our findings suggest that as forests throughout the region pass through the impending successional transition prompted by widespread mortality of canopy-dominant early successional aspen and birch species, the canopy will undergo significant structural reorganization with consequences for forest carbon assimilation.
Keywords: canopy structure; disturbance; rugosity; lidar; light availability canopy structure; disturbance; rugosity; lidar; light availability
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Hardiman, B.S.; Bohrer, G.; Gough, C.M.; Curtis, P.S. Canopy Structural Changes Following Widespread Mortality of Canopy Dominant Trees. Forests 2013, 4, 537-552.

AMA Style

Hardiman BS, Bohrer G, Gough CM, Curtis PS. Canopy Structural Changes Following Widespread Mortality of Canopy Dominant Trees. Forests. 2013; 4(3):537-552.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hardiman, Brady S.; Bohrer, Gil; Gough, Christopher M.; Curtis, Peter S. 2013. "Canopy Structural Changes Following Widespread Mortality of Canopy Dominant Trees." Forests 4, no. 3: 537-552.


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