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The structure and reproduction of the virgin forest: a review of Eustace Jones (1945)

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Jones (1945) was a milestone paper exploring the natural forest concept with examples from the temperate and boreal ecosystems. It has become a classic because of its use of field observation of regeneration, succession and structure to assess theories about disturbance and the dynamic properties of natural forests. His main aim was to review some of the features of the structure and reproduction of the north temperate virgin forests, and this article presents, discusses and evaluates the main features of this legendary paper. Jones had international experience of both the ecological and silvicultural research communities and combined long-term field observations with theory to develop a realistic assessment of natural forest properties that formed the basis for current understanding. He demonstrated that natural disturbance regimes could generate a variety of structures and that a stable, “climax” forest concept was often not supported by field data. He also showed that even-aged components are common in these forest ecosystems and that the recruitment of tree species proceeds irregularly even in undisturbed stands. His work has influenced subsequent development of related subjects such as disturbance theory, gap-phase dynamics and long-term vegetation changes and has left a legacy with practical relevance for nature conservation and silviculture.

Keywords: Climax; dead wood; disturbance; forest history; gap-phase dynamics; natural; structure

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK 2: Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: February 1, 2011

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