Current issue: 54(2)
Gap formation and its effects on regeneration have been reported as being important in forest development, but seldom studies concentrated on the gap closure process by lateral extension growth of canopy trees surrounding gaps. We monitored the closure process of 12 artificial gaps for 7 years with three size classes: small (from 68 m2 to 125 m2), middle (from 174 m2 to 321 m2), and large (from 514 m2 to 621 m2); and investigated the regeneration twice in a temperate secondary forest, Northeast China. The closure process can be described through quadratic functions, which showed the closure rates slowed down with gap ages. Large gaps had a higher closure rate (39 m2 a–1) than middle gaps (25 m2 a–1) and small gaps (11 m2 a–1). According to the quadratic equations, the lateral growth could last 11, 13 and 16 years for small, middle and large gaps with a remaining size of 12, 69 and 223 m2, respectively. As expected, regeneration exhibited the highest seedling density and volume in large gaps. There was no significant difference in regeneration density between middle gaps, small gaps and forest understory in the final investigation; but the volume of regenerated woody species increased significantly from small gaps to large gaps compared with forest understory. These results may provide references on the choice of appropriate gap sizes to promote the regeneration in temperate secondary forests.