Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Timothy Kreps

Degree Award Date

Spring 2008


canopy gaps, species diversity, North Woodland tree species, UNDERC


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Forest Biology | Forest Management | Forest Sciences


Despite numerous studies looking at canopy gaps and their impact on tree species diversity, the dynamics of these light-gaps are still widely debated. Furthermore, a basic understanding of canopy gap dynamics would greatly aid in developing appropriate forest management plans. This study posits that gaps are not essential in maintaining species diversity in forests. To substantiate my hypothesis I surveyed woody juvenile stems in 24 gaps and 24 paired non-gap control sites. After recording the species, height, and browse condition of each stem in my plots I found that species diversity was not different between gap and non-gap control sites. Furthermore, shade tolerant species did not show a dichotomy in their recruitment patterns on a percent basis. This suggests that, at least in the northern hardwood forest around UNDERC, the gap regime is not rigorously linked with maintenance of species diversity. Further study should be undertaken to determine whether latitudinal or spatial gradients have an effect on gap dynamics.