Tree Uprooting:  Review of Impacts of Forest Ecology


Randall J. Schaetzl, Scott F. Burns,

Donald L. Johnson and Thomas W. Small


            This paper reviews the ecological effects of tree uprooting.  In many forests, disturbance by uprooting is the primary means of maintaining species richness and diversity.  Treefall may be due to exogenous factors or it may be endogenously created, although the former predominate.  The canopy gap formed by downed trees is often vital to community vegetation dynamics and successional pathways, by providing high light niches (gaps) for pioneer species, by encouraging release of suppressed, shade-tolerant saplings, and through recruitment of new individuals.  Nutrient cycling may be affected by uprooting as subsoil materials are brought to the surface, via additions of woody debris to the forest floor, through exposure of bare mineral soil, and by changes in throughfall chemistry.  The influence of the resultant pit/mound microtopography on understorey herb distribution is largely due to microclimatic and microtopographic variation.  Tree seedling distribution, however, is related to microtopography primarily through differences in soil morphology, nutrition, and moisture content of mound and pit sites.