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Assessing the recovery of a long-lived herb following logging: Trillium ovatum across a 424-year chronosequence


Kahmen,  A.
Research Group Biodiversity Ecosystem, Dr. N. Buchmann, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Kahmen, A., & Jules, E. S. (2005). Assessing the recovery of a long-lived herb following logging: Trillium ovatum across a 424-year chronosequence. Forest Ecology and Management, 210(1-3), 107-116.

We investigated the long-term recovery of Trillium ovatum (Liliaceae) following clear-cut logging by assessing demographic trends across a forest chronosequence that ranged in age from 2 to 424 years. In each of 20 sites across the chronosequence, we used 50 x 50 m plots to assess the population size, age and stage structure, seed production, and the spatial distribution of seedlings relative to reproductive plants. We found that Trillium populations were significantly reduced in younger sites and a significant positive relationship of population size and stand age, suggesting that population recovery following stand-replacement disturbances may take centuries. Slow recovery rates of Trillium can partly be explained by short seed dispersal distances. We found 67% of new Trillium recruits within only one meter of potential parent plants. Despite the general trend of slow recovery, a few recently disturbed populations showed fast population growth. In these cases, high rates of post-disturbance recruitment were related to the number of individuals surviving the disturbance event. We found that local, within-site seed production can most likely mitigate limited dispersal abilities of Trillium. The rate of Trillium recovery following disturbance, therefore, depends on the number of plants that have persisted through the disturbance event and serve as within-site seed sources. Our study suggests that the nature of the stand-replacement disturbance (i.e., magnitude and intensity) may be critical in determining the recovery of understory plants in managed forests. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. [References: 39]