Ice storms can cause severe damage to forest canopies, resulting in differential mortality among tree species and size classes and leading to long-lasting changes in the vertical structure and composition of the forest. An intense ice storm in 1998 damaged large areas of the northern hardwood forest, including much of the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, New Hampshire (USA). Following up on detailed poststorm assessments, we measured changes in the vertical structure of the forest canopy 8 years poststorm. We focused on how the presence of disease-induced advance regeneration of American beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.) has affected canopy structure in the recovering forest. We measured foliage-height profiles using a point-quadrat approach and a pole-mounted leaf area index (LAI) sensor. Although the total LAIs of damaged and undamaged areas were similar, areas damaged in 1998 showed an increased proportion of total leaf area between 6 and 10 m above the ground. The foliage at this height is largely (54%) beech. To the extent that this heavily beech-dominated understory layer suppresses regeneration of other species, these findings suggest that rare disturbances of mature northern hardwood forests affected by beech bark disease will increase the importance of damage-prone and economically marginal beech.
Canadian Journal of Forest Research
NRC Research Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Weeks BC, Hamburg SP, Vadeboncoeur MA. 2009. Ice storm effects on the canopy structure of a northern hardwood forest after eight years. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 39:1475-1483
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