Short-term effects of timber harvest and forest edges on ground-layer mosses and liverworts

Cara R. Nelson, Charles B. Halpern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Limited information exists on the effects of forest management practices on bryophytes, despite their importance to forest ecosystems. We examined short-term responses of ground-layer bryophytes to logging disturbance and creation of edges in mature Pseudotsuga forests of western Washington (USA). The abundance and richness of species were measured in four 1-ha forest aggregates (patches of intact forest) and in surrounding logged areas before and after structural retention harvests. One year after treatment, species richness, total cover, and frequency of most moss and liverwort taxa declined within harvest areas. Within forest aggregates, mosses did not show significant edge effects; however, richness and abundance of liverworts declined with proximity to the aggregate edge. Our results suggest that, over short time frames, 1-ha-sized aggregates are sufficient to maintain most common mosses through structural retention harvests but are not large enough to prevent declines or losses of liverworts. Thus, current standards for structural retention, which allow for aggregates as small as 0.2 ha, may be inadequate to retain the diversity and abundance of species found in mature, undisturbed forests.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)610-620
Number of pages11
JournalCanadian Journal of Botany
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Bryophyte
  • Edge effects
  • Forest borders
  • Forest management
  • Logging effects
  • Structural retention harvest


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