Response of vegetation and birds to severe wind disturbance and salvage logging in a southern boreal forest

Emily J. Lain, Alan Haney, John M. Burris, Julia Burton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vegetation and birds were inventoried on the same plot before and after a severe windstorm in 1999 disturbed a mature black spruce (Picea mariana)-jack pine (Pinus banksiana) forest in northern Minnesota. Following the storm, another plot was established in an adjacent portion of the forest that was salvage-logged. Birds were inventoried on both plots through 2002. The original unsalvaged plot was prescribed-burned in 2004, but vegetation was surveyed through 2003, and through 2005 on the salvaged plot. We examined the effects of wind disturbance by comparing the pre-storm bird and vegetation communities with those developing afterwards through 2002 and 2003, respectively, and the effects of salvage logging by comparing vegetation and the bird community on the unsalvaged plot with those in the salvaged area. Wind reduced the canopy of the forest by over 90% with a temporary increase in the shrub layer, mostly resulting from tip-ups. Several plant species, including jack pine and beaked hazel (Corylus americana), appeared temporarily in the ground layer (<1 m height), but did not persist through 2003. Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) root sprouts were abundant in 2001, but decreased dramatically by 2003. Delayed mortality of tipped trees resulted in reduction of the shrub layer to pre-storm levels, and release of advanced regeneration black spruce and balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Bird species using the forest changed from dominance by canopy-foraging species to ground-brush foraging species, with an overall increase in bird diversity. Salvage logging resulted in significant reduction in coarse woody debris, and successful recruitment of jack pine seedlings. Quaking aspen sprouts were nearly 30 times more abundant in the salvage-logged area compared to the unsalvaged control. Ruderal species, especially red raspberry (Rubus ideaus), fringed bindweed (Polygonum cilinode), and several sedges (Carex spp.), were significantly more abundant after salvage logging. The bird community, on the other hand, was greatly diminished by salvage logging, with a reduction in diversity, density, and overall richness of species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-871
Number of pages9
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 20 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Bird diversity
  • Community structure
  • Salvage logging
  • Wind disturbance
  • Windthrow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Response of vegetation and birds to severe wind disturbance and salvage logging in a southern boreal forest'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this