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Edge-mediated effects on stand dynamic processes in forest interiors: a coupled field and simulation approach


  • John A. Kupfer,

  • James R. Runkle

J. A. Kupfer, Dept of Geography and Regional Development, Harvill Building Box 2, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721 USA ( – J. R. Runkle, Dept of Biological Sciences, Wright State Univ., Dayton OH 45435 USA.


Researchers studying forest edge effects in fragmented landscapes have begun to move beyond merely documenting changes along the edge itself to examining the dynamic influences that edges may have on processes in adjacent areas. One such “edge-mediated effect” is the influence that edges may have on canopy gap replacement processes within the forest interior by acting as seed sources for shade-intolerant plant species. In this paper, we coupled analyses of woody species composition in gap and non-gap areas within the interior of an Ohio hardwood forest with a simple cellular automata model of forest dynamics. Non-gap composition was primarily correlated with disturbance history and site conditions (topographic position and slope) while a comparable analysis using a 24-year time series of composition in gaps showed that gap composition was related most strongly to the proximity of edge communities for the first 10–15 years. However, after 15–20 years of gap succession, composition was correlated with essentially the same variables and to the same degree as non-gap vegetation, suggesting that the influence of edge proximity on interior stand dynamic processes was transient. These results were used to develop a simple mathematical model of stand dynamics that showed that losses of interior forest area may be much greater than typically predicted by core-area models, which do not consider dynamic, edge-mediated effects. Further, our findings suggest the importance of considering disturbance interval in mediating edge-interior relationships, particularly as it may interact with forest size and shape.