White Pine Invasion of Woodlands: Competitive Displacement or "Empty-Niche" Colonization?
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Following the removal of white pine, native hardwoods may either re-colonize the niches formerly occupied by the white pine or the hardwoods may be unable to exploit the resources necessary to replace them. Although other research suggests that white pine displaces native hardwoods in upland forests on the Domain, it is not clear what effect the limited resources of woodland habitats had on the plant community structure determined by our study. If our alternative “empty niche” hypothesis is confirmed, it would suggest that in this resource limited environment, white pine is able to capture resource space not being taken advantage of by native species. However, we expect that further studies will suggest that the white pine had competitively displaced the native hardwoods, by showing an increased understory density for native hardwoods.