|Title||Disturbance effects on herbaceous layer vegetation and soil nutrients in Populus forests of northern lower Michigan|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1995|
|Authors||Roberts MRichard, Gilliam FS|
|Journal||Journal of Vegetation Science|
Recent disturbance models have identified changes in resource availability as factors that control plant community response. Soil nutrient resources typically are assumed to change following forest disturbance, usually with nutrient availability increasing initially and subsequently decreasing through later stages of succession. We examined the effects of disturbance (clearcut harvesting with a brief recovery period) on soil organic matter, pH and extractable soil nutrients in successional aspen forests of northern lower Michigan to determine relationships of these variables to changes in herbaceous layer vegetation. Two site types were identified: dry-mesic (glacial outwash sands, low in organic matter) and mesic (calcareous clay till, high in organic matter). Extractable nutrient concentrations were 1.5 to 3 times higher in the A1 horizon of mesic sites than those of dry-mesic sites. Soil pH and cations increased after disturbance on mesic sites, but not on dry-mesic sites. Patterns of change with disturbance were less pronounced in lower horizons on both site types. Herb-layer species diversity increased after disturbance on mesic sites, but with decreases in the importance of shade-tolerant tree species and Maianthemum canadense. Species characteristic of open habitats (e.g. Pteridium aquilinum, Rubus spp., Fragaria virginiana, and Diervilla lonicera), increased in importance. Soil factors, species composition and diversity on dry-mesic sites changed little after disturbance, with Pteridium aquilinum and ericaceous species remaining dominant in both mature (55-82 yr) and disturbed (<= 15 yr) stands. These results suggest that soil nutrient resources do not always change through secondary succession and that patterns of change can be distinctly site-dependent. Disturbance response patterns in the herbaceous layer of these aspen forests are also site-dependent.