Plant Ecology

, Volume 172, Issue 2, pp 183–197 | Cite as

Recovery of late-seral vascular plants in a chronosequence of post-clearcut forest stands in coastal Nova Scotia, Canada



We investigated the impacts of clearcutting on the ground vegetation of remnant late-successional coastal Acadian forests in southwestern Nova Scotia. Vegetation was sampled in 750 1-m2 quadrats established in 16 stands belonging to different recovery periods since clearcutting (3–54 years) and 9 late-successional forests (100–165 years) with no signs of significant human disturbance. Our objectives were to: i) describe the changes in species richness, diversity, and abundance of ground vegetation after clearcutting; ii) examine the responses of residual species (i.e., late-successional flora) to clearcutting; and iii) determine whether any forest species were restricted to or dependent upon the late-successional stages of stand development for maximal frequency and/or abundance. Although clearcutting had no immediate impact on overall alpha richness or diversity, the richness and diversity of residual plants declined after canopy removal and showed no evidence of recovery over 54 years of secondary succession. Consequently, compositional differences between secondary and late-seral stands persisted for many decades after clearcutting. Several understory herbs (e.g., Coptis trifolia (L.) , Oxalis montana (L.), Monotropa uniflora (L.)) were restricted to or attained their highest frequency and abundance in late-seral forests. These results suggest that the preservation of remnant old stands may be necessary for the maintenance of some residual plants in highly disturbed and fragmented forest landscapes in eastern Canada.

Clearcut logging Coastal temperate forest Community resilience Old-growth forest Residual plants 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Dept. of BiologySt. Mary's UniversityHalifaxCanada

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