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Forest Management Does Not Emulate Natural Disturbance with Respect to Plant Diversity and Forest Community Composition

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Title: Forest Management Does Not Emulate Natural Disturbance with Respect to Plant Diversity and Forest Community Composition
Author: Webster, Neil
Department: Department of Integrative Biology
Program: Integrative Biology
Advisor: Newmaster, Steven
Abstract: Forest management practices in Ontario are required to emulate natural disturbance in an effort mitigate the anthropological impact on the environment. This is enforced by the Crown Forest Sustainability Act, initiated in 1994, yet inadequate research has been done to support management techniques that satisfy the legislation in regards to the plant diversity and community composition. A series of 435 plots on 139 sites were established in Northern Ontario, consisting of stands of various ages and disturbance origins. Plant diversity and community composition were estimated with a variety of diversity indices and multivariate community analyses. My results show that managed stands are more diverse than those with a natural disturbance origin based on multiple diversity indices. Detrended Canonical Correspondence Analyses revealed considerable variation in community composition among all stands. Plant communities differ between the stands of different disturbance origins (managed/unmanaged), and these differences are influenced by stand age. These results reject the hypothesis that current forest management practices emulate natural disturbance.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/5328
Date: 2013-01
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