Groundstory vegetation response to different thinning intensities in a minor stream bottom in Mississippi: a preliminary analysisThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Groundstory vegetation typically accounts for the greatest proportion of plant diversity in temperate forests, representing a critical structural component and mediating numerous ecosystem processes, including tree regeneration. The effects of thinning on groundstory vegetation have received limited study in bottomland hardwood stands. This study investigated groundstory vascular plant development following thinning in a minor stream bottom in Mississippi. Thinning treatments representing a range of residual basal areas were used to assess groundstory herbaceous and woody vine and shrub response to canopy opening. Plant community responses were evaluated in terms of cover, relative abundance, and composition. Groundstory species richness and cover were higher in thinned areas 5 years post-thinning. This was primarily attributable to increases in the cover of grasses, sedges, blackberry (Rubus argutus Link), and numerous forbs, likely in response to higher light availability that would favor these less shade tolerant species. Overall, cover appears to increase in direct proportion to the intensity of overstory removal. Improved knowledge of groundstory response to thinning in bottomland hardwood stands should assist management efforts aimed at the maintenance of plant diversity (and its many benefits) and at successfully regenerating desirable hardwood species.