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The role of disturbance severity and canopy closure on standing crop of understory plant species in ponderosa pine stands in northern Arizona, USA


Sabo, Kyla E.; Sieg, Carolyn Hull; Hart, Stephen C.; Bailey, John Duff. 2009. The role of disturbance severity and canopy closure on standing crop of understory plant species in ponderosa pine stands in northern Arizona, USA. Forest Ecology and Management. 257: 1656-1662.

Concerns about the long-term sustainability of overstocked dry conifer forests in western North America have provided impetus for treatments designed to enhance their productivity and native biodiversity. Dense forests are increasingly prone to large stand-replacing fires; yet, thinning and burning treatments, especially combined with other disturbances such as drought and grazing, may enhance populations of colonizing species, including a number of non-native species. Our study quantifies plant standing crop of major herbaceous species across contrasting stand structural types representing a range in disturbance severity in northern Arizona. The least disturbed unmanaged ponderosa pine stands had no non-native species, while non-native grasses constituted 7-11% of the understory plant standing crop in thinned and burned stands. Severely disturbed wildfire stands had a higher proportion of colonizing native species as well as non-native species than other structural types, and areas protected fromgrazing produced greater standing crop of native forbs compared to grazedunmanaged stands. Standing crop of understory plants in low basal area thinned and burned plots was similar to levels onwildfire plots, but was comprised of fewer non-native graminoids and native colonizing plants.

Keywords: aboveground understory plant standing crop, grazing, non-native plant species, prescribed burning, thinning, wildfire


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: The role of disturbance severity and canopy closure on standing crop of understory plant species in ponderosa pine stands in northern Arizona, USA
Electronic Publish Date: March 19, 2009
Last Update:
March 19, 2009

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