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Article

The Long-Term Effects of Wind Disturbance on a Sitka Spruce-Western Hemlock Forest

Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
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Forests 2019, 10(2), 119; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020119
Received: 12 January 2019 / Revised: 24 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Responses to Large-Scale Wind Disturbance)
Wind is an important disturbance in many forested regions, but research has largely focused on immediate to short-term (<10 years) effects on species composition and structure of stands and landscapes. We used a set of ten, 0.4-ha plots established in 1935 and measured every 5–13 years to examine the cumulative effects of multiple wind disturbance events in the coastal forests of Oregon. Since 1935 there have been ten documented wind events in coastal Oregon with hurricane-force winds. Most of the eight windstorms since 1962 noticeably influenced at least one plot; however, no individual storm clearly influenced all plots. Net rate of biomass accumulation of plots was negative when biomass mortality exceeded 29–41 Mg/ha per 5-year period (or 3.4%–5.8% per 5 years). In contrast, wind disturbance did not clearly reduce NPP (Net Primary Production) in any plot until biomass mortality exceeded 50%. Major wind-related mortality episodes in individual plots did not necessarily strongly influence the average loss of biomass across all plots. For example, a biomass loss of 88% in one plot resulted in an average loss of only 3.4% across all plots. In contrast, the cumulative effect of multiple plots with repeated wind-related mortality did decrease biomass at the multi-plot level. Depending on the plot, wind caused 16%–59% of the total mortality over time, and the proportion of wind-related mortality has increased 5- to 8-fold since 1940. The majority (80%) of wind-related mortality was “immediate”, but some trees survived up to 35 years after being significantly wind damaged. Despite western hemlock having a wind-related mortality rate that was at least twice that of Sitka spruce, the number of stems of the former species increased over time. This trend may be related to the predominant recovery mechanism which was the release of existing small trees and the fact that the majority of ingrowth was western hemlock. This study suggests that wind disturbance is a heterogeneous, gradual process and that while individual events have a detectable impact on structure and function, the largest impacts, at least in systems where it reoccurs each decade, are cumulative. View Full-Text
Keywords: cumulative effects; disturbance; forest regeneration; mortality; long-term change; permanent plots; windthrow cumulative effects; disturbance; forest regeneration; mortality; long-term change; permanent plots; windthrow
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MDPI and ACS Style

Harmon, M.E.; Pabst, R.J. The Long-Term Effects of Wind Disturbance on a Sitka Spruce-Western Hemlock Forest. Forests 2019, 10, 119. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020119

AMA Style

Harmon ME, Pabst RJ. The Long-Term Effects of Wind Disturbance on a Sitka Spruce-Western Hemlock Forest. Forests. 2019; 10(2):119. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020119

Chicago/Turabian Style

Harmon, Mark E., and Robert J. Pabst. 2019. "The Long-Term Effects of Wind Disturbance on a Sitka Spruce-Western Hemlock Forest" Forests 10, no. 2: 119. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020119

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