Winning and Losing Tree Species of Reassembly in Minnesota’s Mixed and Broadleaf Forests

TitleWinning and Losing Tree Species of Reassembly in Minnesota’s Mixed and Broadleaf Forests
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsHanberry, Brice B., Palik Brian J., and He Hong
Secondary AuthorsHector, Andrew
JournalPLoS ONE
Date Published4/2013
Keywordsecosystems, Fire suppression technology, Fires, forestry, forests, Oaks, Pines, trees

We examined reassembly of winning and losing tree species, species traits including shade and fire tolerance, and associated disturbance filters and forest ecosystem types due to rapid forest change in the Great Lakes region since 1850. We identified winning and losing species by changes in composition, distribution, and site factors between historical and current surveys in Minnesota’s mixed and broadleaf forests. In the Laurentian Mixed Forest, shade-intolerant aspen replaced shade-intolerant tamarack as the most dominant tree species. Fire-tolerant white pine and jack pine decreased, whereas shade-tolerant ashes, maples, and white cedar increased. In the Eastern Broadleaf Forest, fire-tolerant white oaks and red oaks decreased, while shade-tolerant ashes, American basswood, and maples increased. Tamarack, pines, and oaks have become restricted to sites with either wetter or sandier and drier soils due to increases in aspen and shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive species on mesic sites. The proportion of shade-tolerant species increased in both regions, but selective harvest reduced the applicability of functional groups alone to specify winners and losers. Harvest and existing forestry practices supported aspen dominance in mixed forests, although without aspen forestry and with fire suppression, mixed forests will transition to a greater composition of shade-tolerant species, converging to forests similar to broadleaf forests. A functional group framework provided a perspective of winning and losing species and traits, selective filters, and forest ecosystems that can be generalized to other regions, regardless of species identity.