Main content area

The effects of partial cutting on forest plant communities of western hemlock--Sitka spruce stands in southeast Alaska

Deal, R.L.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2001 v.31 no.12 pp. 2067-2079
wildlife, browsing, deer, boreal forests, habitats, species diversity, stand structure, stand basal area, Tsuga heterophylla, Picea sitchensis, forest ecology, understory, Alaska
The effects of partial cutting on plant species richness, community structure, and several understory species that are important for deer forage were evaluated on 73 plots in 18 stands throughout southeast Alaska. These partially cut stands were harvested 12-96 years ago when 16-96% of the former stand basal area was removed. The species richness and community structure of understory plants were similar in uncut and partially cut plots. However, plots where more than 50% of the basal area was cut had a significantly different plant community structure. Species composition and abundance also appeared to be distinctly different between hemlock-dominated and spruce-dominated stands. Partial cutting did not significantly change abundance for most of the important forage species for deer. The similarity in plant community structure between partially cut and uncut old-growth stands may be related to forest stand structures. The heterogeneous stand structures that develop after partial cutting are more similar to old-growth stands than to the uniform young-growth stands that develop after stand replacing disturbances such as clear-cutting.