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Forests 2019, 10(2), 85;

Damage Diversity as a Metric of Structural Complexity after Forest Wind Disturbance

Department of Plant Biology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602, USA
Received: 31 December 2018 / Revised: 18 January 2019 / Accepted: 21 January 2019 / Published: 23 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Causes and Consequences of Species Diversity in Forest Ecosystems)
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This study presents a new metric for quantifying structural complexity using the diversity of tree damage types in forests that have experienced wind disturbance. Structural complexity studies of forests have to date not incorporated any protocol to address the variety of structural damage types experienced by trees in wind disturbances. This study describes and demonstrates such a protocol. Damage diversity, defined as the richness and evenness of types of tree damage, is calculated analogously to species diversity using two common indices, and termed a ‘Shannon Damage Heterogeneity Index’ (Sh-DHI) and an inverse Simpson Damage Heterogeneity Index (iSi-DHI). The two versions of the DHI are presented for >400 plots across 18 distinct wind disturbed forests of eastern North America. Relationships between DHI and pre-disturbance forest species diversity and size variability, as well as wind disturbance severity, calculated as the fraction of basal area downed in a wind disturbance event, are examined. DHIs are only weakly related to pre-disturbance tree species diversity, but are significantly positively related to pre-disturbance tree size inequality (size diversity). Damage diversity exhibits a robust curvilinear relationship to severity; both versions of the DHI show peaks at intermediate levels of wind disturbance severity, suggesting that in turn structural complexity may also peak at intermediate levels of severity. View Full-Text
Keywords: species diversity; structural complexity; legacies; wind damage; uprooting; trunk breakage species diversity; structural complexity; legacies; wind damage; uprooting; trunk breakage

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Peterson, C.J. Damage Diversity as a Metric of Structural Complexity after Forest Wind Disturbance. Forests 2019, 10, 85.

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