Natural and Anthropogenic Disturbance as Drivers of Ecosystem Change
Natural disturbances such as forest fire, wind throw, and insect and disease outbreaks can be important drivers of ecosystem dynamics. Human impacts, such as the changes in climate with industrialization, logging, accidental and intentional introduction of plants, and land use changes, also greatly affect ecosystem dynamics.
Whether the disturbance is fire, logging, wind, insect and/or disease outbreaks, or invasive species; disturbance changes forest structure and alters species composition and can accelerate succession.
In most boreal forests in central North America, the most common natural disturbances are crown and ground fires occurring at intervals shorter than the lifespan of dominant canopy trees. Extensive wind disturbance also has ecological importance in forest dynamics.
Traditionally, disturbance was thought to set back succession to some earlier stage. However, it's possible that some forest communities exhibit accelerated succession following a wide range of disturbances.
Funded by: Hubachek Wilderness Research Foundation
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