Bryophyte community response to silvicultural opening size in a managed northern hardwood forest

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We examined the influence of group-selection opening size on the structure and composition of bryophyte communities in a managed northern hardwood forest. We quantified bryophyte communities in 49 group-selection openings, ranging in size from 200 to 1460 m2, 2 years following overstory removal. Bryophyte communities in forest openings were compared to those observed on 20 closed canopy reference plots in the surrounding forest matrix. Both the overall importance ([relative percent cover + frequency]/2) of bryophytes as a group and total percent cover of bryophytes were significantly lower (P < 0.005) in openings compared to closed canopy plots. However, a continuous decline in bryophyte importance was not observed with increasing opening size. Opening creation resulted in pronounced shifts in community composition. In general, species that occurred in both the forest matrix and openings displayed high substrate fidelity across treatments. Collectively, our results suggest that while openings were clearly hostile environments for some species, they probably provide important habitat for and may facilitate the persistence of some disturbance-adapted bryophyte species. © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Forest Ecology and Management