Disturbance dynamics of forested ecosystems
Forested ecosystems are dynamic, subject to natural developmental processes as well as natural and anthropogenic stresses and disturbances. Degradation is a related term. for lowered productive capacity from changes to forest structure of function (FAO. 2001). Degradation is not synonymous with disturbance, however; disturbance becomes degradation when natural resilience mechanisms are overwhelmed (Stanturf. 2004). Although ecologists have long recognized disturbance as a phenomenon, only in the last 30 years has it been accorded a place in theories of ecosystem dynamics (Pickett and White, 1985). Disturbance is more the norm than the exception in forested ecosystems, is common to many spatial and temporal scales, at all levels of ecological organization. My objective in this paper is to pose three questions about disturbance, and offer my perspective as incomplete answers. These questions are (1) Why do/should we care about disturbance dynamics of forests? (2) What exactly are disturbance dynamics? and (3) How can we incorporate disturbance dynamics into forest management?