Rapid Canopy Loss

Understory Vegetation Responses to Rapid Canopy Loss

Project timeline and status: 2021 - 2022, currently soliciting data submission for synthesis

See our one-pager call for collaborators and data!

  1. sCORE rapid canopy loss flier
  1. Woodlands of the Great Lakes

    Woodlands in the Great Lakes region are threatened by an unprecedented number of disturbances from multiple fronts of global change. Ecosystem functions and plant and animal populations are continuously being altered by a series of inter-related stressors such as the ongoing invasion of non-native plants and invertebrates, escalating nutrient inundation, and habitat fragmentation and isolation. Coupled with these escalating abiotic and biotic changes, many woodlands in the region are still reeling from recent and rapid losses of canopy cover caused by large scale mortality events such as that brought on by the advent of the emerald ash borer.

  2. Understory Plant Communities

    While the impact to tree species in these systems is a major focus of recent research, it is less well understood how the individual and combined effects of these disturbances impact the understory plant communities in this system. Understory plant communities are a crucial component of the region’s biodiversity and a great deal of management resources are devoted to restoring and maintaining that diversity. In the face of new potential rapid canopy loss events for dominant species and in order to conserve and plan for current and future restoration efforts it is critical that researchers begin to understand how rapid canopy loss impacts understory communities and how management practices may offset or alter those impacts.

  3. Emerald Ash Borer

    Examining how understory plant communities have responded to rapid canopy loss events, such as emerald ash borer, is crucial to conserving and restoring this crucial component of the region’s biodiversity. We will address these questions by compiling pre- and post-canopy loss vegetation data from sites across the Great Lakes region and identifying the magnitude and direction of compositional changes in understory plant communities. The results of this project will allow practitioners to better understand what to expect after future losses to the canopy of dominant tree species and highlight ways to anticipate and mediate negative changes in understory composition.

Project Goals

Seeking collaborators and data

Do you have data that may help inform this work? Or do you have management questions that you would like to try to address once we have compiled data from across the region? If so, we want to hear from you! Email us at score@nipcsa.com or click the contact us link below and we will schedule time to chat with you.


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sCORE is a project of
the Negaunee Institute for Plant
Conservation Science and Action at
Chicago Botanic Garden

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