Understory response to management treatments in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests

Kerry L. Griffis, Julie A. Crawford, Michael R. Wagner, W. H. Moir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


A range of forest management treatments was applied to ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) in northern Arizona. The treatments represented the full range of existing stand disturbance conditions and included forest stands that were unmanaged, thinned, thinned and prescribed burned, and burned by stand-replacing wildfire in order of increasing disturbance intensity. We assessed differences in understory diversity associated with these treatments. We identified 195 species of understory plants, focusing on the distribution of natives and exotics. The abundance of understory plants was more sensitive to changes in management treatments than the overall species richness. Exotics on the whole, responded statistically more strongly to disturbance treatments than did natives. Both the richness and abundance of exotic forbs increased significantly with treatment intensity. Species richness remained stable while abundance of native graminoids increased significantly with treatment intensity through thinned and burned stands. Both then decreased significantly in stands that experienced wildfire. The number of native shrub species decreased significantly with treatment intensity. Overall plant diversity was least in the unmanaged stands and progressively increased with intensity of disturbance/stand treatments. Both prescribed burning and wildfire increased plant diversity; however, stand-replacing wildfire also appeared to substantially increase the diversity of exotic plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-245
Number of pages7
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2001


  • Abundance
  • Forest management
  • Ponderosa pine
  • Prescribed burning
  • Species richness
  • Thinning
  • Understory plants
  • Wildfire


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