Park Natural History

Middle stages of forest development

Middle stages of forest development

As a forest matures further and trees become less dense, the primary source of mortality of trees shifts from competition to disturbances, such as wind, insects, and diseases, or the combination of those agents. This is the beginning of the development of the important processes of disturbance and decadence that characterize old-growth forests, resulting in broken tops of trees, dead and decaying standing trees (snags) and logs, and gaps created by dead or fallen trees. The death of, or damage to, trees and the formation of forest gaps can be considered the “engines of biodiversity.”