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Structural complexity and primary production resistance are coupled in a temperate forest

Authors
  • Niedermaier, Kerstin M.1
  • Atkins, Jeff W.1, 2
  • Grigri, Maxim S.1
  • Bond-Lamberty, Ben3
  • Gough, Christopher M.1
  • 1 Department of Biology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA , (United States)
  • 2 United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station, New Ellenton, SC , (United States)
  • 3 Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, MD , (United States)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Frontiers in Forests and Global Change
Publisher
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
Jul 19, 2022
Volume
5
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/ffgc.2022.941851
Source
Frontiers
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Forests and Global Change
  • Original Research
License
Green

Abstract

The capacity of forests to resist structural change and retain material legacies–the biotic and abiotic resources that persist through disturbance–is crucial to sustaining ecosystem function after disturbance. However, the role of forest structure as both a material legacy and feature supporting carbon (C) cycling stability following disturbance has not been widely investigated. We used a large-scale disturbance manipulation to ask whether legacies of lidar-derived canopy structures drive 3-year primary production responses to disturbance. As part of the Forest Resilience Threshold Experiment (FoRTE) in northern Michigan, USA we simulated phloem-disrupting disturbances producing a range of severities and affecting canopy trees of different sizes. We quantified the legacies of forest structure using two approaches: one measuring the change in structure and primary production from pre-to post-disturbance and the second estimating resistance as log transformed ratios of control and treatment values. We found that total aboveground wood net primary production (ANPPw) was similar across disturbance severities as legacy trees rapidly increased rates of primary production. Experiment-wide, the disturbance had limited effects on change in mean structural complexity values; however, high variance underscored large differences in the magnitude and direction of complexity's response at the plot-scale. Plot-scale structural complexity, but not vegetation area index (VAI), resistance strongly predicted ANPPw resistance while temporal VAI and structural complexity changes did not. We conclude that the presence of material legacies in the form of forest structure may affect primary production stability following disturbance and that how legacies are quantified may affect the interpretation of disturbance response.

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