May 10, 2014

An appraisal of the classic forest succession paradigm with the shade tolerance index

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Jean LienardNikolay Strigul


In this paper we revisit the classic theory of forest succession that relates shade tolerance and species replacement and assess its validity to understand patch-mosaic patterns of forested ecosystems of the USA. We introduce a macroscopic parameter called the "shade tolerance index" and compare it to the classic continuum index in southern Wisconsin forests. We exemplify shade tolerance driven succession in White Pine--Eastern Hemlock forests using computer simulations and analyzing approximated chronosequence data from the USDA FIA forest inventory. We describe this parameter across the last 50 years in the ecoregions of mainland USA, and demonstrate that it does not correlate with the usual macroscopic characteristics of stand age, biomass, basal area, and biodiversity measures. We characterize the dynamics of shade tolerance index using transition matrices and delimit geographical areas based on the relevance of shade tolerance to explain forest succession. We conclude that shade tolerance driven succession is linked to climatic variables and can be considered as a primary driving factor of forest dynamics mostly in central-north and northeastern areas in the USA. Overall, the shade tolerance index constitutes a new quantit...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

United States Department of Agriculture
Eastern white pine extract
White pine extract
Mosaic Organism

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