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Quantitative and qualitative effects of a severe ice storm on an old-growth beech–maple forest

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Abstract:

Comparing permanent plots censused in 1997 and again in 2005, we quantified the impact of a severe ice storm on forest composition and dynamics in an old-growth beech–maple forest in eastern Canada. Acer saccharum Marsh. and Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. accounted for 78% of stand basal area immediately before the January 1998 ice storm. By 2005, eight growing seasons after the ice storm, stand basal area had dropped from 49.1m2/ha to 31.5m2/ha, and total tree density (>1 cm diameter at breast height (DBH)) decreased from 6350 stems/ha to 3875 stems/ha. However, A. saccharum and F. grandifolia remained dominant, accounting for 74% of stand basal area. Detrended correspondence analysis of relative dominance ratios at each plot in 1997 and 2005 showed that community composition did not change much during this period for either understory (1cm≤ DBH< 10cm) or canopy trees (DBH≥ 10cm). The ice storm did not lead to significant recruitment of saplings (DBH≥ 1cm), but appears to have only contributed more to the growth of already-established saplings. We conclude that the ice storm of 1998 substantially decreased stand basal area and stem density but did not act to change the overall species composition or tree diversity in this old-growth beech–maple forest.

En comparant les places-échantillons permanentes mesurées en 1997 et à nouveau en 2005, nous avons quantifié l’impact d’un verglas sévère sur la composition et la dynamique d’une forêt ancienne d’érable et de hêtre dans l’est du Canada. Acer saccharum Marsh. et Fagus grandifolia Ehrh. représentaient 78% de la surface terrière immédiatement avant le verglas de janvier 1998. En 2005, huit saisons de croissance après le verglas, la surface terrière du peuplement était passée de 49,1 m2/ha à 31,5 m2/ha et la densité totale des arbres (>1 cm au DHP) de 6350 tiges/ha à 3875 tiges/ha. Représentant 74% de la surface terrière du peuplement, A. saccharum et F. grandifolia étaient toujours les espèces dominantes. L’analyse des correspondances redressée des rapports de dominance relative dans chaque place-échantillon en 1997 et 2005 indique que la composition de la communauté n’a pas changé beaucoup durant cette période tant pour les arbres de sous-bois (1 cm ≤ DHP < 10 cm) que pour les arbres de la canopée (DHP ≥ 10 cm). Le verglas n’a pas entraîné de recrutement significatif de gaules (DHP ≥ 1 cm) mais semble seulement avoir davantage contribué à augmenter la croissance des gaules déjà établies. Nous concluons que le verglas de 1998 a diminué de façon importante la surface terrière du peuplement et la densité des tiges mais n’a pas modifié la composition globale en espèces ni la diversité des arbres dans cette forêt ancienne de hêtre et d’érable.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2007

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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