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Successional diversity and forest ecosystem function



Forest inventory data was used to examine the relationship between successional diversity and forest ecosytem function. The inventory data show that stands composed of early successional species are more productive than stands composed of late successional species, whereas stands composed of late successsional species have lower turnover than stands composed of early successional species. Taken alone, these results would suggest that forests should be managed in a way that favors the most productive early successional species or longest-lived late successional species, depending on whether the goal is to maximize productivity or maximize carbon storage. However, the inventory data also show that stands with low successional diversity fix and store less carbon than stands with high successional diversity. This result suggests that forests should be managed in such a way as to retain species diversity while also favoring species that maximize the ecosystem function of interest.