The influence of microsites and damage severity on arboreal and herbaceous vegetation patterns twenty-six years after a tornado
Cohen, Jodi Lea
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Wind disturbances create heterogeneous environments in which forests regenerate. They commonly produce mound, pit, stump and trunk microsites and zones of varying severity of damage. I investigated the influence of disturbance-generated microsites in two primeval forest stands that experienced differing severity of tornado damage 26 years before sampling. My goal was to ascertain under what circumstances microsites affect regeneration, specifically addressing growth form, life stage, and damage severity. Both microsites and severity affected sapling/pole distribution. Severity had no relationship with tree seedling or herbaceous vegetation characteristics within microsites; however, differences among microsites were more pronounced with increasing severity for tree seedlings. Saplings/poles were more abundant on mounds, while seedlings proliferated (presumably more frequently) on fallen trunks, illustrating a temporal shift in microsite importance. Herbaceous vegetation responded to microsites differently than tree seedlings, rarely establishing on trunk microsites. Microsites and severity differentially affected growth forms and life stages.