Hedging bets against change: silvicultural alternatives for managing the adaptive capacity of northern hardwood forests


  • Julia I. Burton Michigan Technological University.


tree peformance traits, silviculture planning, climate change, ACTS


Changes in the global climate, increases in ungulate densities, and invasive species all interact to threaten the ability of northern hardwood forest ecosystems to continue to provide desirable ecosystem functions and services. Silvicultural approaches that increase species, structural, and functional diversity allow managers to address these concerns by hedging their bets against these threats. Here I will synthesize lessons learned from the Northern Hardwood Silviculture Experiment for Enhancing Diversity (NH SEED) – an experiment designed to identify processes limiting species diversity using a range of nested overstory and understory manipulations. Additionally, I will describe ongoing work on functional traits, and linking functional diversity to carbon dynamics in one of the longest-running silvicultural trials at the Dukes Experimental Forest. Finally, I will introduce Adaptive Capacity Through Silviculture (ACTS), a new network of experiments designed to test alternative approaches to climate change adaptation in northern hardwoods of the northeastern US and Lake States. Together these studies highlight a range of options for managing vulnerabilities at multiple scales. 


Authors: Julia I. Burton, Claudia Bartlick, Yvette L. Dickinson, John E. Drake, Garrett R. Evans, Robert Froese, René H. Germain, Stefan F. Hupperts, Maria Janowiak, Mickey Jarvi, Christel C. Kern, Carsten Külheim, Keenan Rivers, Christopher R. Webster, Andrew L. Vander Yacht 

Author Biography

Julia I. Burton, Michigan Technological University.

Julia Burton is an Associate Professor of Silviculture in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Technological University. She earned a PhD in Forest Science from University of Wisconsin, MS from University of Minnesota and BS from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She has held appointments at Oregon State University (Research Associate, Postdoctoral), Utah State University (Research Assistant Professor) and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (Assistant Professor). She has over 20 years of experience studying northern hardwood forest ecology and silviculture and has over 13 relevant peer-reviewed publications. Her research group currently focuses broadly on developing and experimentally testing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies for northern hardwood forest ecosystems and integrating an understanding of functional traits and functional diversity with silvicultural management. Specific work has focused on regeneration processes, the ground-layer plant community, carbon storage and sequestration, old-growth structure and function, gap dynamics, and interactions with deer herbivory.