Sustainable management of bottomland hardwood forest ecosystems requires a knowledge of responses to management impacts, including timber harvesting. The effects of clearcutting and partial cutting on woody vegetation regeneration dynamics, surface and groundwater quality, soil physical properties, and soil respiration were tested in a bottomland hardwood ecosystem in southeastern Texas, USA, through comparison with non-cut control areas. Overstory removal only slightly affected composition of woody vegetation regeneration 1 year after harvesting compared with pre-harvest composition. Initial composition in both cutting treatments appeared to be the strongest determinant of post-harvest composition, at least for the first year after harvesting. There were few significant differences in groundwater properties when harvesting treatments were compared with control areas during a 17-month period following harvest. Turbidity, temperature, electrical conductivity, dissolved O2, NH4-N, NO3-N, and PO4-P of streamwater did not vary significantly among treatments. Slight decreases in total and macroporosity were observed in association with higher bulk densities at 0-5 cm depth in the clearcut and partial cut treatments. Saturated hydraulic conductivity values did not decline significantly with treatment intensity. No significant differences among treatments in measured soil physical properties were observed at 5-10 cm depth. Although in situ soil respiration increased with harvest intensity, treatment had no significant effect on mineral soil respiration. In summary, most variables showed only slight response to harvesting, thereby indicating that harvesting practices can be conducted with minimal initial impacts on measured response variables.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law