Date of Award

Summer 8-2019

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forest Resources


Robert S Seymour

Second Committee Member

Shawn Fraver

Third Committee Member

Jacquelyn Gill


The ubiquity of managed forests has created a demand for management practices that simultaneously meet traditional management goals and maintain biodiversity. Ecological forestry, which emulates the outcomes of natural disturbances, is assumed to enhance native species survival by creating conditions similar to those under which species have long survived. We assessed this assumption by exploring the herbaceous plant community response to 20 years of gap-based, multi-aged silviculture treatments. Additionally, we assessed the ability of the treatments to meet silvicultural objectives by exploring trends in tree regeneration. The Acadian Forest Ecosystem Research Project (AFERP) is a replicated study established in 1995 on the Penobscot Experimental Forest, Maine, designed to study the response to two silvicultural treatments which emulate gap dynamics typical of wind disturbance and species-specific insect outbreaks. Results suggest the treatments have not only maintained, but even enhanced understory plant diversity, primarily with native species. Trends in regeneration show certain high-value species increased while components of balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill) did not. Our findings suggest these ecological forestry treatments could meet traditional management goals while maintaining understory plant diversity.