Environmental Management

, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp 637–650 | Cite as

A review of major factors influencing plant responses to recreation impacts

  • Fred R. Kuss


This article reviews some of the more important factors found to influence the susceptibility of plants to trampling impacts associated with recreational use of natural areas. A three-way interaction mediates plant responses to impacts: plant x environment x stress level(s). Plant responses vary in part according to the genetic constitution of the plant, life and growth form, the adaptive flexibility of the plant, and anatomical differences inherent to growth habit and morphology. Other factors that influence plant sensitivities to impacts are the habitat environments in which plants grow, since a number of conditions such as moisture excesses or deficiencies, nitrogen or oxygen starvation, late frosts, etc., cause physiological injury and may increase plant sensitivity to impacts. Among the environmental factors that may increase or lessen plant sensitivities to impacts are soil moisture levels, canopy density, elevation, aspect, microclimate, soil drainage, texture, fertility and productivity. Seasonal influences also bear consideration since environmental changes and phonological and physiological events are mediated by time of year. Stresses are caused by both direct and indirect forms of impact and vary according to season of use, frequency and amount of use, and the type of activity. These interactions are further complicated by evidence that inter- and intraspecific competition, antagonism, and commensalism may influence differences in the sensitivity of plant communities to impacts.

Key words

Recreation impacts Plant stress Soil compaction Drainage Canopy densities Microclimate 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred R. Kuss
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of RecreationUniversity of MarylandCollege ParkUSA

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