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Twenty-five years of vegetation change along a putative successional chronosequence on the Tanana River, Alaska1

TitleTwenty-five years of vegetation change along a putative successional chronosequence on the Tanana River, Alaska1
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsHollingsworth, TN, Lloyd, AH, Nossov, DR, Ruess, RW, Charlton, BA, Kielland, K
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Volume40
Pagination1273–1287
Abstract

Along the Tanana River floodplain, several turning points have been suggested to characterize the changes inecosystem structure and function that accompany plant community changes through primary succession. In the past, muchof this research focused on a presumed chronosequence that uses space for time substitutions. Within this chronosequence,permanent vegetation plots repeatedly measured over time provide an excellent test of the turning points model. We analyzedboth canopy and understory vegetation data collected since 1987 in the Bonanza Creek Experimental Forest at theBonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research site to address the following questions: (i) Do long-term changes in thedensities of seedling, sapling, and mature trees and shrubs of the dominant woody taxa at each successional stage supportthe turning points model? (ii) How does the entire plant community change with time at each hypothesized turning point?(iii) Do we see evidence of directional and synchronous shifts in species composition across successional stages? We concludethat some aspects of vegetation change during the last 25 years were consistent with the turning points model; however,many changes were not consistent, indicating the potential roles of biological, environmental, landscape, and climatecontrols in vegetation patterns.

DOI10.1139/X10-094