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Landform-Mediated Differences in Successional Pathways Among Upland Forest Ecosystems in Northwestern Lower Michigan

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Seedling and sapling densities were compared with current overstory composition in 30 upland forest stands in northwestern Lower Michigan to study potential successional pathways. The patterns of compositional change were strongly related to topographic and edaphic differences among glacial landforms. Glaciofluvial landforms, currently dominated by oak, have relatively high densities of oak seedlings (4913 stems/ha) that seldom move into the sapling layer (10 stems/ha). Oak-dominated ecosystems on hilly ice-contact stratified drift exhibited relatively high densities of red maple saplings (48 stems/ha). Oak-dominated ecosystems on extremely well drained outwash plains exhibited sparse sapling regeneration of any species; red maple was typically absent, and oak saplings were usually in an apparent state of decline. Differences in the potential for recruitment of saplings into the overstory among these ecosystems may be attributable to differences in fire history or site-dependent effects on the competitive abilities of species. Morainal landforms, currently supporting relatively diverse northern hardwood overstories, showed little potential recruitment of any species other than sugar maple. Glacial landforms in northwestern Lower Michigan direct compositional change by influencing soil moisture and nutrient availability, and historical patterns of disturbance and species establishment. For. Sci. 33(2):445-457.

Keywords: Succession; ecosystem classification; landscape ecology; oak regeneration

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA Forest Service, 421 S. Mitchell St., Cadillac, MI 49601

Publication date: 1987-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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