Original Paper

European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 17-40

First online:

Canopy effects on vegetation caused by harvesting and regeneration treatments

  • Sven WagnerAffiliated withDresden University of Technology Email author 
  • , Holger FischerAffiliated withDresden University of Technology
  • , Franka HuthAffiliated withDresden University of Technology

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This paper reviews the primary effects of canopy on understorey vegetation to provide insight into the management of the canopy space to benefit tree regeneration. Site conditions, like nutrient and water availability, overstorey conditions, e.g. tree species, and canopy density, are important determinants of ground vegetation. An investigation of canopy effects is concerned about how the canopy trees modify site conditions. As canopy density may be deliberately modified during regeneration treatments, the effect of canopy density on individual species in the herbaceous layer and tree regeneration is important. This autecological perspective focuses on the successional traits of species to help understand species differences in fecundity, survival, density and growth. From a synecological perspective, the importance of successional traits for the outcome of competition between species arising from differences in canopy densities is highlighted. This review shows that moderately dense canopies may favour tree regeneration over aggressive shade-intolerant graminoids or forbs. This is particularly true for shade-tolerant and intermediate shade-tolerant tree species. To better understand and utilise this phenomenon, research should try to identify and isolate different canopy effects.


Overstorey density Competition Niche partitioning Ground vegetation Regeneration Successional traits Overstorey manipulation