Long-Term Response of Herbaceous and Sapling Strata to Mechanical Understory Removal in Northern Hardwoods

Date of Award


Semester of Degree


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Major Professor

Gregory McGee

Steering Committee Member

Christopher Nowak

Steering Committee Member

Ralph Nyland

Steering Committee Member

Mariann Johnston

Steering Committee Member

Shijie Liu


This thesis reports the effect of cutting understory trees at three sites in the central Adirondacks of New York. Felling treatments were applied in 2000 to understory trees (< 5.5 in. dbh) using a brushsaw, from May through October. Observations from 2017 indicate that understory American beech densities and heights did not differ between treatment and control plots. However, densities of beech saplings (1.0 – 5.4 in. dbh) indicate that cutting may have reduced beech by 3-fold, while, the cohort directly below (≥ 6 ft. but < 1.0 in.) the sapling layer increased 4-fold. Further, treatments did not improve the densities and heights of non-beech regeneration. The treatment also showed no effect on richness and the cover of the herbaceous layer. Results indicate that mechanical site preparation is not effective for long-term control of American beech or for promoting diversity of non-beech species and ground layer vegetation in northern hardwood forests.

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