Wind disturbance in remnant forest stands along the prairie-forest ecotone, Minnesota, USA

James M. Dyer, Phil Baird

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Strong winds are an important disturbance agent in northern Minnesota forests. On June 19, 1994, strong winds (>160 km h-1) associated with a tornado damaged forested areas within the Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, situated in Polk County Minnesota along the prairie-forest boundary. Field sampling was conducted immediately following the storm to quantify the type and extent of damage in four different community types, and to project future composition based on the nature of the storm damage and current understory characteristics, including the impact of overbrowsing by deer. Basal area in six sampled remnant forest stands was reduced by 33.5%, although the damage was heterogeneous; basal area in one stand was reduced by 68.1%. The overall effect of the storm was the removal of early- successional species (primarily Populus tremuloides) in larger size classes. Trees situated at stand edges were not more susceptible to snapping or uprooting than interior trees. Projections of future stand composition indicate that wind disturbance, unlike other agents of disturbance such as fire, may accelerate succession on the Refuge, such that early-successional stands will assume a later-successional character, while Acer-Tilia stands should maintain their late-successional character. Overbrowsing and preferential foraging by deer may significantly alter stand recovery patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-134
Number of pages14
JournalPlant Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1997


  • Disturbance: windthrow
  • Forest dynamics
  • Overbrowsing: deer
  • Storm: damage
  • Succession


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