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Disturbance-Mediated Accelerated Succession in Two Michigan Forest Types

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In northern lower Michigan, logging accelerated sugar maple (Acer saccharum) dominance in a northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) community, and clear-cutting and burning quickly converted certain sites dominated by mature jack pine (Pinus banksiana) to early-successional hardwoods, including Prunus, Populus, and Quercus. In both forest types the succeeding hardwoods should continue to increase in the future at the expense of the pioneer conifer species. In the cedar example, sugar maple was also increasing in an undistrubed, old-growth stand, but at a much reduced rate than in the logged stand. Traditionally, disturbance was thought to set back succession to some earlier stage. However, our study sites and at least several other North American forest communities exhibited accelerated succession following a wide range of disturbances, including logging, fire, ice storms, wind-throw, disease, insect attack, and herbicide spraying. For. Sci. 35(1):42-49.

Keywords: Northern white cedar; fire; jack pine; logging; old-growth; sugar maple

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 2627 Redwing Road, Creekside One, Fort Collins, CO 80526

Publication date: March 1, 1989

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