Herbaceous vegetation responses to gap size within natural disturbance-based silvicultural systems in Northeastern Minnesota, USA.
The use of silvicultural systems that emulate aspects of natural disturbance regimes, including natural disturbance severities and scales, has been advocated as a strategy for restoring and conserving forest biodiversity in forests managed for wood products. Nonetheless, key information gaps remain regarding the impacts of these approaches on a wide range of taxa, including understory plant species. We investigated the 6- or 7-year response of herbaceous vegetation to natural disturbance-based silvicultural harvest gaps in a northern hardwood forest in Northeastern Minnesota. These results indicate that harvest gaps are effective in conserving understory plant diversity by promoting conditions necessary for disturbance-dependent understory plant species. However, harvest gaps also contained non-native invasive plant species.