Plant Ecology

, Volume 212, Issue 7, pp 1179–1191

Dynamics, diversity, and resource gradient relationships in the herbaceous layer of an old-growth Appalachian forest

Article

Abstract

The ecological drivers of herbaceous layer composition and diversity in deciduous forests of eastern North America are imperfectly understood. We analyzed the herbaceous layer, across the growing season, in a central Appalachian old-growth forest to examine dynamics, diversity, and relationships to resource gradients. We found clear variation in herb species composition over the growing season. We identified intermingled resource gradients, including soil nutrients, light availability, and topography, that were related to herbaceous composition. We found that herb layer diversity was different among previously identified tree communities, but was not variable over the growing season. We identified a unimodal relationship between diversity and productivity in the herb flora that held throughout the growing season despite changing composition and levels of productivity. Diversity and distributions in the herbaceous community of our study site are linked to a complex of resource gradients.

Keywords

Ground layer Herb Community structure Phenology Diversity–productivity relationships Environmental gradient 

References

  1. Albrecht MA, McCarthy BC (2006) Seed germination and dormancy in the medicinal woodland herbs Collinsonia canadensis L. (Lamiaceae) and Dioscorea villosa L. (Dioscoreaceae). Flora 201:24–31Google Scholar
  2. Albrecht MA, McCarthy BC (2009) Seedling establishment shapes the distribution of shade-adapted forest herbs across a topographical moisture gradient. J Ecol 97:1037–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Al-Mufti MM, Sydes CL, Furness SB, Grime JP, Band SR (1977) A quantitative analysis of shoot phenology and dominance in herbaceous vegetation. J Ecol 65:759–791CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Beatty SW (1984) Influence of microtopography and canopy species on spatial patterns of forest understory plants. Ecology 65:1406–1419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beers TW, Dress PE, Wensel LC (1966) Aspect transformation in site productivity research. J For 64:691–692Google Scholar
  6. Bierzychudek P (1982) Life histories and demography of shade-tolerant temperate forest herbs: a review. New Phytol 90:757–776CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boerner REJ (2006) Unraveling the Gordian Knot: interactions among vegetation, topography, and soil properties in the central and southern Appalachians. J Torrey Bot Soc 133:321–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bradley NL, Leopold AC, Ross J, Huffaker W (1999) Phenological changes reflect climate change in Wisconsin. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 96:9701–9704PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bratton SP (1976) Resource division in an understory herb community: responses to temporal and microtopographic gradients. Am Nat 110:679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Braun EL (1937) Some relationships of the flora of the Cumberland Mountains in Kentucky. Rhodora 39:193–208Google Scholar
  11. Braun EL (1940) An ecological transect of Black Mountain, Kentucky. Ecol Monogr 10:195–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Braun EL (1942) Forests of the Cumberland Mountains. Ecol Monogr 12:413–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Braun EL (1950) Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Blakiston, Philadelphia 596 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Brewer R (1980) A half-century of changes in the herb layer of a climax deciduous forest in Michigan. J Ecol 68:823–832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Carter MR (1993) Soil sampling and methods of analysis. Lewis Publishing, Boca Raton, FLGoogle Scholar
  16. Chase JM (2010) Stochastic community assembly causes higher biodiversity in more productive environments. Science 328:1388–1391PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Chase JM, Leibold MA (2002) Spatial scale dictates the productivity–biodiversity relationship. Nature 416:427–430PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Clements FE (1916) Plant succession: an analysis of the development of vegetation. Carnegie Institute of Washington, Washington, DC, 520 ppGoogle Scholar
  19. Collier MH, Vankat JL, Hughes MR (2002) Diminished plant richness and abundance below Lonicera maackii, an invasive shrub. Am Midl Nat 147:60–71CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Crozier CR, Boerner REJ (1984) Correlations of understory herb distribution with microhabitats under different tree species in a mixed mesophytic forest. Oecologia 62:337–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. D’Agostino RB, Belanger A, D’Agostino RB Jr (1990) A suggestion for using powerful and informative tests of normality. Am Stat 44:316–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Duffy CD, Meier AJ (1992) Do Appalachian herbaceous understories ever recover from clearcutting? Conserv Biol 6:196–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ford MF, Odom RH, Hale PE, Chapman BR (2000) Stand-age, stand characteristics, and landform effects on understory herbaceous communities in southern Appalachian cove-hardwoods. Biol Conserv 93:237–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fornara DA, Tilman D (2009) Ecological mechanisms associated with positive diversity–productivity relationship in an N-limited grassland. Ecology 90:408–418PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Frazer GW, Canham CD, Lertzman KP (1999) Gap Light Analyzer (GLA). Imaging software to extract canopy structure and gap light transmission indices from true-color fisheye photographs. Copyright 1999, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, and the Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York. http://www.ecostudies.org/gla. Last accessed November 3, 2010
  26. Gilliam FS (2007) The ecological significance of the herbaceous layer in temperate forest ecosystems. Bioscience 57:845–852CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gilliam FS, Roberts MR (2003a) The herbaceous layer in forests of eastern North America. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  28. Gilliam FS, Roberts MR (2003b) Interactions between the herbaceous layer and overstory canopy of eastern forests. In: Gilliam FS, Roberts MR (eds) The herbaceous layer in forests of eastern North America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 163–176Google Scholar
  29. Gleason HA (1926) The individualistic concept of the plant association. Bull Torrey Bot Club 53:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Goebel PC, Hix DM, Olivero AM (1999) Seasonal ground-flora patterns and site factor relationships of second-growth and old-growth south facing forest ecosystems, southeastern Ohio, USA. Nat Areas J 19:12–29Google Scholar
  31. Grace JB (1999) The factors controlling species density in herbaceous plant communities: an assessment. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 2:1–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hicks DJ (1980) Intrastand distribution patterns of southern Appalachian cove forest herbaceous species. Am Midl Nat 104:206–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hill JD (1976) Climate of Kentucky. Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station Progress Report 221, College of Agriculture, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KYGoogle Scholar
  34. Hintze J (2001) NCSS and PASS. Number Cruncher Statistical Systems, Kaysville, UTGoogle Scholar
  35. Huston M (1979) A general hypothesis of species diversity. Am Nat 113:81–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hutchinson TF, Boerner REJ, Iverson LR, Sutherland S, Sutherland EK (1999) Landscape patterns of understory composition and richness across a moisture and nitrogen mineralization gradient in Ohio (U.S.A.) Quercus forests. Plant Ecol 144:177–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jones RL (2005) Plant life of Kentucky: an illustrated guide to the vascular flora. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KYGoogle Scholar
  38. Jules ES (1998) Habitat fragmentation and demographic change for a common plant: trillium in old-growth forest. Ecology 79:1645–1656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Liira J, Zobel K (2000) The species richness-biomass relationship in herbaceous plant communities: what difference does the incorporation of root biomass data make? Oikos 91:109–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Martin WH (1975) The Lilley Cornett woods: a stable mixed mesophytic forest in Kentucky. Bot Gazette 136:171–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Matlack GR (1994) Plant species migration in a mixed-history forest landscape in eastern North America. Ecology 75:1491–1502CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Matlack GR (2005) Slow plants in a fast forest: local dispersal as a predictor of species frequencies in a dynamic landscape. J Ecol 93:50–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McCarthy BC (2003) The herbaceous layer of eastern old-growth forests. In: Gilliam FS, Roberts MR (eds) The herbaceous layer in forests of eastern North America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 163–176Google Scholar
  44. McCune B, Grace JB (2002) Analysis of ecological communities. MjM Software, Gleneden Beach, ORGoogle Scholar
  45. McCune B, Mefford MJ (2006) PC-ORD. Multivariate analysis of ecological data, version 5.0. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, ORGoogle Scholar
  46. McEwan RW, Muller RN (2006) Spatial and temporal dynamics in canopy dominance of an old-growth mixed mesophytic forest. Can J For Res 36:1536–1550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McEwan RW, Muller RN, Arthur MA, Housman HH (2000) Temporal and ecological patterns of flowering dogwood mortality in the mixed mesophytic forest of eastern Kentucky. J Torrey Bot Soc 127:221–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McEwan RW, Muller RN, McCarthy BC (2005a) Vegetation–environment relationships among four canopy-layers in an old-growth mixed mesophytic forest. Castanea 70:32–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. McEwan RW, Muller RN, Paratley RD, Riccardi CL (2005b) The vascular flora of Big Everidge Hollow, an old-growth mixed mesophytic forest. J Torrey Bot Soc 132:618–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. McEwan RW, Brecha RJ, Geiger DR, John GP (2010) Flowering phenology change and climate warming in southwestern Ohio. Plant Ecol 212:55–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Meier AJ, Bratton SP, Duffy DC (1995) Possible ecological mechanisms for loss of vernal-herb diversity in logged Eastern Deciduous Forests. Ecol Appl 5:935–946CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Muller RN (1982) Vegetation patterns in the mixed mesophytic forests of eastern Kentucky. Ecology 63:1901–1917CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Muller RN (2003) Nutrient relations of the herbaceous layer in deciduous forest ecosystems. In: Gilliam FS, Roberts MR (eds) The herbaceous layer in forests of eastern North America. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 15–37Google Scholar
  54. Muller RN, Bormann FH (1976) Role of Erythronium americanum Ker. in energy flow and nutrient dynamics of a northern hardwood forest ecosystem. Science 193:1126–1128PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Oksanen J (1996) Is the humped relationship between species richness and biomass an artifact due to plot size? J Ecol 84:293–295CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Rapson GL, Thompson K, Hodgson JG (1997) The humped relationship between species richness and biomass—testing its sensitivity to sample quadrat size. J Ecol 85:99–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Raunkiaer C (1934) The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Collected papers of C Raunkiaer (translated into English by Carter HG, Tansley AG, Fausboll MS). Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  58. Ricketts TH, Dinerstein E, Olson DM, Loucks C (1999) Who’s where in North America. Bioscience 49:369–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Rogers RS (1982) Early spring herb communities in mesophytic forests of the Great Lakes Region. Ecology 63:1050–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Romme WH, Martin WH (1982) Natural disturbance by tree falls in old growth mixed mesophytic forest: Lilley Cornett Woods, Kentucky. In: Muller RN (ed) Proceedings of the 4th Central Hardwood Forest Conference, 8–10 November 1982, Lexington, KY. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, pp 367–383Google Scholar
  61. Rooney TP, Dress WJ (1997) Species loss over sixty-years in the ground-layer vegetation of Heart’s content, an old-growth forest in Pennsylvania, USA. Nat Areas J 17:297–305Google Scholar
  62. Schuster B, Diekmann M (2005) Species richness and environmental correlates in deciduous forest of Northwest Germany. For Ecol Manag 206:197–205CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Small CJ, McCarthy BC (2002) Spatial and temporal variation in the response of understory vegetation to disturbance in a central Appalachian oak forest. J Torrey Bot Soc 129:136–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Small CJ, McCarthy BC (2005) Relationship of understory diversity to soil nitrogen, topographic variation, and stand age in an eastern oak forest, USA. For Ecol Manag 217:229–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Thompson JN (1980) Treefalls and colonization patterns of temperate forest herbs. Am Midl Nat 104:176–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Trewartha GT (1968) An introduction to climate, 4th edn. McGraw-Hill, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  67. Tyler G (1989) Interacting effects of soil acidity and canopy cover on the species composition of field-layer vegetation in oak/hornbeam forests. For Ecol Manag 28:104–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Vellend M, Verheyen K, Jacquemyn H, Kolb A, Calster HV, Peterken G, Hermy M (2006) Extinction dept of forest plants persists for more than a century following habitat fragmentation. Ecology 87:542–548PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Vellend M, Verheyen K, Flinn KM et al (2007) Homogenization of forest plant communities and weakening of species–environment relationships via agricultural land-use. J Ecol 95:565–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Whigham DF (2004) Ecology of woodland herbs in temperate deciduous forests. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 35:583–621CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Whitney GG, Foster DR (1988) Overstorey composition and age as determinants of the understory flora of woods of central New England. J Ecol 76:867–876CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Whittaker RH (1956) Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecol Monogr 26:1–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Zar JH (1999) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJGoogle Scholar
  74. Zobel K, Liira J (1997) A scale-independent approach to the richness vs biomass relationship in ground-layer plant communities. Oikos 80:325–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe University of DaytonDaytonUSA
  2. 2.Santa Barbara Botanic GardenSanta BarbaraUSA

Personalised recommendations