The forest stand typically represents relatively homogenous forest conditions; the forest stand is generally the unit at which forest attributes are assessed, summarized, and subsequently managed. However, some ecosystems, such as the floodplain forests of the Upper Mississippi River (UMR), can exhibit high variability at fine spatial scales that can confound prescription development, implementation, and ultimate success of stand-level management actions. Here we assess how forest composition and structure vary within and across stand management units on the UMR and test at what spatial scale environmental variables relate to forest characteristics. We found that plot-level measures of composition, structure, and diversity were not well represented by site-level averages of these values. When basal area of all overstory species was combined, this variable was more closely related to “site” than to any of the environmental variables, but when analyzed by species, within-plot topographic variation (“microtopography”) was a significant positive predictor for both importance values of an individual species (swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor Willd.)) as well as importance value of a specific group of species (oaks (Quercus spp.), bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis (Wangenh.) K. Koch), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis L.), and American basswood (Tilia americana L.)). This work highlights the challenges of using average stand conditions to summarize complex or heterogeneous systems and the need for flexibility and relaxed assumptions in defining management units in these forests.
|Title||What is a stand? Assessing the variability of composition and structure in floodplain forest ecosystems across spatial scales in the Upper Mississippi River|
|Authors||Marcella Windmuller-Campione, Laura F. Reuling, Molly Van Appledorn, Daniel M. Nilesen, Andrew R. Meier|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Forest Ecology and Management|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center|