Understory growth and composition resulting from soil disturbances on the long-term soil productivity study sites in MississippiThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The response of understory plant communities to forest management can have important impacts on crop tree production, biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and water and nutrient cycling. Soil disturbance caused by harvesting and site preparation can alter soil fertility and porosity and may change understory species composition. At the Long-Term Soil Productivity study in Mississippi, we measured woody biomass by species on plots that had been subjected to three levels of experimental soil compaction. Although soil compaction at harvest reduced understory biomass at ages 5 and 10 years, planted pine biomass was unaffected. The relative dominance of individual species was altered by stand establishment and by soil compaction treatments; soil compaction favored early successional species while reducing the biomass and dominance of hardwood trees.