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Forests 2019, 10(2), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020129

Woody Species Composition, Diversity, and Recovery Six Years after Wind Disturbance and Salvage Logging of a Southern Appalachian Forest

Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
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Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 1 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Causes and Consequences of Species Diversity in Forest Ecosystems)
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Abstract

Salvage logging after wind disturbance of a mixed conifer-hardwood forest results in sapling compositional changes but no changes to species diversity six years post-disturbance. Several conceptual frameworks allow for predictions of the effects of forest disturbances on composition, but fewer yield predictions of species diversity. Following compound disturbance, tree species diversity and composition is predicted to shift to early successional species. Because of the greater cumulative severity, diversity should be lower in areas experiencing windthrow + salvage logging than in similar sites experiencing windthrow alone. We examined the effects of wind disturbance and salvage logging on diversity parameters over six years. We hypothesized that the effects of salvage logging on diversity would be short-lived, but that species composition would be altered six years post-disturbance. Sampling plots were established in a mixed-hardwood forest in north Georgia, USA, after a 2011 EF3 tornado and surveyed in 2012 and 2017. Nineteen 20 × 20 m plots were surveyed (10 unsalvaged, 9 salvaged) for parameters including Shannon diversity, species richness, and composition. Ordinations were used to visualize tree and sapling species composition in salvage logged plots. We found that there was no significant difference in Shannon diversity between salvaged and unsalvaged plots before disturbance, <1 post-disturbance, or 6 years post-disturbance. The disturbances altered the tree and sapling species compositions, with salvaged plots having more mid-successional saplings but few true pioneer species. There appears to be an emerging pattern in the wind disturbance + salvaging literature which our study supports– salvaging does not affect tree species diversity but shifts species composition over time. View Full-Text
Keywords: windthrow; tornado; tree species; disturbance severity; tree regeneration; salvaging; salvage logging; succession windthrow; tornado; tree species; disturbance severity; tree regeneration; salvaging; salvage logging; succession
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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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Oldfield, C.A.; Peterson, C.J. Woody Species Composition, Diversity, and Recovery Six Years after Wind Disturbance and Salvage Logging of a Southern Appalachian Forest. Forests 2019, 10, 129.

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