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Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forestry (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Linda Marie Nagel


The herbaceous layer is a dynamic layer in a forest ecosystem which often contains the highest species richness in northern temperate forests. Few long-term studies exist in northern hardwood forests with consistent management practices to observe herbaceous species dynamics. The Ford Forest (Michigan Technological University) reached its 50th year of management during the winter of 2008-2009. Herbaceous species were sampled during the summers pre- and post-harvest. Distinct herbaceous communities developed in the 13-cm diameter-limit treatment and the uncut control. After the harvest, the diameter-limit treatments had herbaceous communities more similar to the 13-cm diameter-limit treatment than the uncut control; the herbaceous layer contained more exotic and early successional species. Fifty years of continuous management changed the herbaceous community especially in the diameter-limit treatments. Sites used in the development of habitat classification systems based on the presence and absence of certain herbaceous species can also be used to monitor vegetation change over time. The Guide to Forest Communities and Habitat Types of Michigan was developed to aid forest managers in understanding the potential productivity of a stand, and often aid in the development of ecologically-based forest management practices. Subsets of plots used to create the Western Upper Peninsula Guide were resampled after 10 years. During the resampling, both spring and summer vegetation were sampled and earthworm populations were estimated through liquid extraction. Spring sampling observed important spring ephemerals missed during summer sampling. More exotic species were present during the summer 2010 sampling than the summer 2000 sampling. Invasive European earthworms were also observed at all sample locations in all habitat types; earthworm densities increased with increasing habitat richness. To ensure the accuracy of the guide book, plots should be monitored to see how herbaceous communities are changing. These plots also offer unique opportunities to monitor for invasive species and the effects of a changing climate.