Understory plant community response to compaction and harvest removal in a loblolly pine plantationThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
In 1992 the Southern Research Station, U.S. Forest Service, constructed three Long-Term Soil Productivity (LTSP) installations in a loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) plantation on the Croatan National Forest in Craven County, NC. The LTSP study consists of a nationwide network of experiment sites designed to examine the long-term effects of soil disturbance on forest productivity, one aspect of which is the growth of understory vegetation. Each installation features three levels of soil compaction crossed with three levels of organic matter removal imposed on a harvested site prior to planting. Intensive surveys of the understory vegetation were carried out on the Croatan LTSP site prior to and two years after treatment installation, focusing on the extremes of the soil compaction (no compaction, severe compaction) and organic matter removal treatments (bole only, whole tree + forest floor). We collected plant community data in the summer of 2006 to address the following objectives: (1) to characterize the current standing understory vegetation, (2) to determine the interaction of organic matter removal and compaction treatments fourteen years post-treatment, and (3) to compare current vegetation patterns with the pre-treatment and two years post-treatment vegetation. Preliminary results of an analysis of variance of 2006 vascular plant richness data, as well as a description of changes in species composition over time, are presented here.