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Spatial Aspects of Structural Complexity in Old-Growth Forests

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Old-growth forests typically have complex structures, including heterogeneous spatial arrangements as well as a diversity of individual structures. Two aspects of this spatial complexity are discussed and illustrated: (1) vertical distribution of foliage, often apparent as multiple layers; and (2) horizontal heterogeneity, often evident as canopy gaps and dense reproduction patches. Shifts in mortality processes from competitive-based mortality in young stands to agent-based mortality (i.e., insects, diseases, and wind) in older stands play an important part in the development of structural heterogeneity. Old temperate forests can be viewed as fine-scale structural mosaics in which all stand development processes are simultaneously present within the stand. An additional definition of forest stand that incorporates the entire structural mosaic of old-growth is needed.
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Keywords: environmental management; forest; forest health; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; silviculture

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Professor Research Faculty, College of Forest Resources University of Washington Box 352100 Seattle WA 98195, Email: 2: Research Faculty, College of Forest Resources University of Washington Box 352100 Seattle WA 98195

Publication date: 2004-04-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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