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Forests 2017, 8(3), 93; doi:10.3390/f8030093

Spatial Patterns of Canopy Disturbance, Structure, and Species Composition in a Multi-Cohort Hardwood Stand

Department of Geography, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487, USA
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Received: 27 January 2017 / Revised: 15 March 2017 / Accepted: 17 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Successional Dynamics of Forest Structure and Function)
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Abstract

Multi-cohort stands are increasingly recognized and valued because of their biological functioning, biological diversity, and resistance and resiliency to perturbations. These forest ecosystems are epitomized by multiple age classes, and often contain multiple canopy layers, a range of tree size classes, and large amounts of woody debris. Disturbance history reconstructions in multi-cohort stands provide an understanding of the processes that create these systems. In this study, we documented structure and composition, and used dendroecological techniques to reconstruct disturbance history on a 1 ha plot in a multi-cohort hardwood stand in the Fall Line Hills of Alabama. The stand was dominated by Quercus alba L. and Liriodendron tulipifera L. Mingling index and stem maps indicated that most species were well dispersed throughout the stand, with the exception of L. tulipifera and Carya tomentosa (Poiret) Nuttal, which were relatively clustered. The oldest trees in the stand established in the 1770s, however, the largest recruitment event occurred ca. 1945 in conjunction with a stand-wide canopy disturbance. We posit that spatial heterogeneity of canopy removal during this event was largely responsible for the observed compositional and spatial complexity documented in the stand. In addition to the 1945 event, we recorded another stand-wide canopy disturbance in 1906 and 84 gap-scale disturbance events from 1802 to 2003. The conditions documented in the stand can be used as a benchmark to guide the creation and maintenance of complex multi-cohort stand characteristics, an increasingly popular management goal. View Full-Text
Keywords: complex; oak (Quercus); Liriodendron tulipifera; disturbance; Alabama; multi-cohort complex; oak (Quercus); Liriodendron tulipifera; disturbance; Alabama; multi-cohort
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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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MDPI and ACS Style

Ford, S.; Kleinman, J.; Hart, J. Spatial Patterns of Canopy Disturbance, Structure, and Species Composition in a Multi-Cohort Hardwood Stand. Forests 2017, 8, 93.

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