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Forests 2016, 7(5), 109; doi:10.3390/f7050109

The Effects of Disturbance History on Ground-Layer Plant Community Composition in British Columbia

1
Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada
2
Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, 336 Richardson Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Brian J. Palik and Eric Jokela
Received: 29 February 2016 / Revised: 6 May 2016 / Accepted: 13 May 2016 / Published: 21 May 2016
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Abstract

Plant communities are sensitive to perturbations and may display alternative recovery pathways depending on disturbance history. In sub-boreal lodgepole pine forests of central interior British Columbia, Canada, fire and logging are two widespread landscape disturbances that overlap in many regions. We asked whether cumulative, short-interval disturbance from logging and fire resulted in different ground-layer plant communities than resulted from fire alone. Using field-collected data, we compared the taxonomic composition and functional traits of 3-year old plant communities that were either harvested 6-to-13 years prior, or not harvested prior to being burned in a large stand-replacing fire. The taxonomic composition diverged between the two treatments, driven primarily by differences in a few key indicator species such as Petasites frigidus and Vaccinium membranaceum. Analysis of individual species’ morphological traits indicated that only a few species vary in size in relation to disturbance history. Our data suggest that a history of forest harvest leaves a subtle footprint on post-fire ground-layer plant communities at early stages of succession. View Full-Text
Keywords: disturbance history; multiple disturbance effects; wildfire; clearcut logging; forest harvest; understory species composition; plant functional traits disturbance history; multiple disturbance effects; wildfire; clearcut logging; forest harvest; understory species composition; plant functional traits
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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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Ton, M.; Krawchuk, M.A. The Effects of Disturbance History on Ground-Layer Plant Community Composition in British Columbia. Forests 2016, 7, 109.

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