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Forests 2013, 4(4), 1055-1086; doi:10.3390/f4041055
Article

Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forests in the Northeastern United States: Structure, Dynamics, and Prospects for Restoration

1,* , 2,3
 and 3
Received: 2 July 2013; in revised form: 9 November 2013 / Accepted: 14 November 2013 / Published: 26 November 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Restoration and Regeneration)
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Abstract: Restoration of old-growth forest structure is an emerging silvicultural goal, especially in those regions where old-growth abundance falls below the historic range of variability. However, longitudinal studies of old-growth dynamics that can inform silvicultural and policy options are few. We analyzed the change in structure, including stand density, diameter distribution, and the abundance of large live, standing dead, and downed dead trees on 58 late-successional and old-growth plots in Maine, USA, and compared these to regional data from the U.S. Forest Inventory and Analysis program. Structural dynamics on the late-successional plots reflected orderly change associated with density-dependent growth and mortality, but dynamics on the old-growth plots were more variable. Some plots experienced heavy mortality associated with beech bark disease. Diameter distributions conformed poorly to a classic exponential distribution, and did not converge toward such a distribution at the plot scale. Although large live trees showed a broad trend of increasing density in regional forests, recent harvesting patterns offset a considerable fraction of those gains, while mean diameter was static and the number of large dead trees was weakly declining. Even though forests of the northeast are aging, changes in silviculture and forest policy are necessary to accelerate restoration of old-growth structure.
Keywords: stand structure; coarse woody debris; snags; Weibull distribution; retention stand structure; coarse woody debris; snags; Weibull distribution; retention
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

Ducey, M.J.; Gunn, J.S.; Whitman, A.A. Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forests in the Northeastern United States: Structure, Dynamics, and Prospects for Restoration. Forests 2013, 4, 1055-1086.

AMA Style

Ducey MJ, Gunn JS, Whitman AA. Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forests in the Northeastern United States: Structure, Dynamics, and Prospects for Restoration. Forests. 2013; 4(4):1055-1086.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ducey, Mark J.; Gunn, John S.; Whitman, Andrew A. 2013. "Late-Successional and Old-Growth Forests in the Northeastern United States: Structure, Dynamics, and Prospects for Restoration." Forests 4, no. 4: 1055-1086.


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