SENR Seminar Series
The SENR Seminar Series welcomes Alex Royo, Research Ecologist, USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, who will present The Forest Above and Below: Disturbance and Herbivory Interactions Govern Vegetation and Seed Bank Diversity.
Disruptions to historic disturbance and herbivory regimes have altered plant assemblages in forests worldwide. An emerging consensus suggests that these disruptions often result in impoverished forest biotas. This is particularly true for eastern U.S. deciduous forests where large gaps and understory fires were once relatively common and browsers were far less abundant. Here, we test the hypothesis that the reintroduction of disturbances along with deer browsing promotes plant species diversity of the regenerating tree, understory herbaceous, and the seed bank communities. Our approach utilized a factorial manipulation of canopy gaps (presence/absence), understory fire (burned/unburned), and deer browsing (fenced/unfenced). Our results demonstrate interactions among disturbance are pervasive and, depending on the specific combinations of factors, can enhance, nullify, or reverse expected species diversity responses. We suggest continued fire suppression and continued high deer herds throughout second-growth deciduous forests of the Eastern U.S. may continue to weaken the mechanisms that historically promoted diversity.
The SENR Seminar begins at 4:10 p.m in 103 Kottman Hall with a video link to 123 Williams Hall on the Wooster campus.