Short-term effects of whole-tree harvesting on understory plant species diversity and cover in two Norway spruce sites in southern Norway
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 2016, 31 (8), 766-776. 10.1080/02827581.2016.1164889
Effects of clear-cut harvesting on ground vegetation plant species diversity and their cover are investigated at two Norway spruce sites in southern Norway, differing in climate and topography. Experimental plots at these two sites were either harvested conventionally (stem-only harvesting) or whole trees including crowns, twigs and branches were removed (whole-tree harvesting), leaving residue piles on the ground for some months. We compare the number of plant species in different groups and their cover sums before and after harvesting, and between the different treatments, using non-parametric statistical tests. An overall loss of ground vegetation biodiversity is induced by harvesting and there is a shift in cover of dominant species, with negative effects for bryophytes and dwarf shrubs and an increase of graminoid cover. Differences between the two harvesting methods at both sites were mainly due to the residue piles assembled during whole-tree harvesting and the physical damage made during the harvesting of residues in these piles. The presence of the residue piles had a clear negative impact on both species numbers and cover. Pile residue harvesting on unfrozen and snow-free soil caused more damage to the forest floor in the steep terrain at the western site compared to the eastern site.