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Soil turnover by tree uprooting in primary and secondary forests on the island of Puerto Rico was measured in 42 study plots in the months immediately after the passage of a Category 3 hurricane. Trunk basal area explained 61% of the variability of mound volume and 53% of the variability of mound area. The proportion of uprooted trees, the number of uprooted trees, or the proportion of uprooted basal area explained 84-85% of the variation in hurricane-created mound area. These same variables explain 79-85% of the variation in mound volume. The study indicates that the soil turnover period from tree uprooting by Puerto Rican hurricanes is between 1600 and 4800 years. These rates are faster than soil turnover by landslides...
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Greenhouse gas emissions have significantly altered global climate, and will continue to do so in the future. Increases in the frequency, duration, and/or severity of drought and heat stress associated with climate change could fundamentally alter the composition, structure, and biogeography of forests in many regions. Of particular concern are potential increases in tree mortality associated with climate-induced physiological stress and interactions with other climate-mediated processes such as insect outbreaks and wildfire. Despite this risk, existing projections of tree mortality are based on models that lack functionally realistic mortality mechanisms, and there has been no attempt to track observations of climate-driven...
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The aim of our study was to estimate forest vulnerability and potential distribution of three bark beetles (Curculionidae: Scolytinae) under current and projected climate conditions for 2020 and 2050. Our study focused on the mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicomis), and pine engraver (Ips pini). This study was conducted across eight states in the Interior West of the US covering approximately 2.2millionkm2 and encompassing about 95% of the Rocky Mountains in the contiguous US. Our analyses relied on aerial surveys of bark beetle outbreaks that occurred between 1991 and 2008. Occurrence points for each species were generated within polygons created from the aerial...
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Vertebrate insectivores such as bats are a pervasive top-down force on prey populations in forest ecosystems. Conservation focusing on forest-dwelling bats requires understanding of community-level interactions between these predators and their insect prey. Our study assessed bat activity and insect occurrence (abundance and diversity) across a gradient of forest disturbance and structure (silvicultural treatments) in the Central Appalachian region of North America. We conducted acoustic surveys of bat echolocation concurrent with insect surveys using blacklight and malaise traps over 2 years. Predator activity, prey occurrence and prey biomass varied seasonally and across the region. The number of bat echolocation...
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An experiment conducted as part of the multidisciplinary National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study was designed to determine effects of three fuel reduction techniques on small mammals and habitat structure in the southern Appalachian mountains. Four experimental units, each >14-ha were contained within each of three replicate blocks at the Green River Game Land, Polk County, NC. Treatments were (1) prescribed burning (B); (2) mechanical felling of shrubs and small trees (M); (3) mechanical felling + burning (MB); (4) controls (C). Mechanical understory felling treatments were conducted in winter 2001-2002, and prescribed burning was conducted in March 2003. After treatment, there were fewer live trees, more snags,...
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Oak savannas, once common in the Midwest, are now isolated remnants within agricultural landscapes. Savanna remnants are frequently encroached by invasive trees to become woodlands. Thinning and prescribed burning can restore savanna structure, but the ecohydrological effects of managing these remnants are poorly understood. In this study, we measured sap flow (Js) to quantify transpiration in an Iowa bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) savanna woodland encroached by elms (Ulmus americana), and in an adjacent restored savanna after thinning to remove elms, during summer 2004. Savanna oaks had greater mean daily Js (35.9 L dm-2 day-1) than woodland oaks (20.7 L dm-2 day-1) and elms (12.4 L dm-2 day-1). The response of Js...
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Seedlings of 15 open-pollinated families of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) were tested for their tolerance to combined salinty and flooding stress. Ten of the families were from coastal locations in Louisiana or Alabama, USA, that were slightly brackish. The other families were from locations not affected by saltwater intrusion. Five salinity levels were investigated--0,2,4,6, and 8 g -1 artificial seawater -- all with flooding to approximately 5 cm above the soil surface. Survival, height growth, leaf area and total biomass all declined with increasing salinity. Significant variation was found among salinity levels, families, and salinity x family interactions for leaf area and total biomass. Two tolerance indices...
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At two sites in southwestern Oregon, height, diameter, and crown width of young Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and sprout-origin tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus) were measured 1–11 years after reducing the density of a 2-year-old tanoak stand to 0%, 25%, 50%, and 100% of its initial cover. Some plots also included suppression of understory vegetation. Tanoak cover developed linearly with time, with steepness of the growth trajectory increasing at a diminishing rate with increasing percentage of initial tanoak cover. Fifth-year cover of understory vegetation declined linearly with increasing percentage of initial tanoak cover (R2 = 0.29). Survival of Douglas-fir (96–100%) differed little among initial abundances...
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To better understand the effects of partial cutting on arboreal lichen production within woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) habitat, lichen was hand picked from 1228 branches on 307 subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) trees in Idaho (ID), and in British Columbia (BC). Lichen biomass from partially cut stands was compared with biomass on trees from adjacent uncut stands at each site. Arboreal lichen biomass did not differ significantly between uncut and partially cut stands. Total number of branches per tree did not differ significantly between uncut and partially cut stands. Live branches had more lichen than dead branches. Species composition of arboreal lichen changed in partially cut stands compared with...
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Hotter droughts are becoming more common as climate change progresses, and they may already have caused instances of forest dieback on all forested continents. Learning from hotter droughts, including where on the landscape forests are more or less vulnerable to these events, is critical to help resource managers proactively prepare for the future. As part of our Leaf to Landscape Project, we measured the response of giant sequoia, the world’s largest tree species, to the extreme 2012–2016 hotter drought in California. The project integrated leaf-level physiology measurements, crown-level foliage dieback surveys, and remotely sensed canopy water content (CWC) to shed light on mechanisms and spatial patterns in drought...
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Anthropogenic alteration of ecosystem processes confounds forest management and conservation of rare, declining species. Restoration of forest structure and fire hazard reduction are central goals of forest management policy in the western United States, but restoration priorities and treatments have become increasingly contentious. Numerous studies have documented changes in fire regimes, forest stand structure and species composition following a century of fire exclusion in dry, frequent-fire forests of the western U.S. (e.g., ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer). In contrast, wet mixed-conifer forests are thought to have historically burned infrequently with mixed- or high-severity fire—resulting in reduced...
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Across the western United States, the three primary drivers of tree mortality and carbon balance are bark beetles, timber harvest, and wildfire. While these agents of forest change frequently overlap, uncertainty remains regarding their interactions and influence on specific subsequent fire effects such as change in canopy cover. Acquisition of pre- and post-fire Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data on the 2012 Pole Creek Fire in central Oregon provided an opportunity to isolate and quantify fire effects coincident with specific agents of change. This study characterizes the influence of pre-fire mountain pine beetle (MPB; Dendroctonus ponderosae) and timber harvest disturbances on LiDAR-estimated change in...
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The practice of fire suppression across the western United States over the past century has led to dense forests, and when coupled with drought has contributed to an increase in large and destructive wildfires. Forest management efforts aimed at reducing flammable fuels through various fuel treatments can help to restore frequent fire regimes and increase forest resilience. Our research examines how different fuel treatments influenced burn severity and post-fire vegetative stand dynamics on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, in east-central Arizona, U.S.A. Our methods included the use of multitemporal remote sensing data and cloud computing to evaluate burn severity and post-fire vegetation conditions as well as...
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Ungulate browsing in predator depleted North American landscapes is believed to be causing widespread tree recruitment failures. However, canopy disturbances and variations in ungulate densities are sources of heterogeneity that can buffer ecosystems against herbivory. Relatively little is known about the functional response (the rate of consumption in relation to food availability) of ungulates in eastern temperate forests, and therefore how “top down” control of vegetation may vary with disturbance type, intensity, and timing. This knowledge gap is relevant in the Northeastern United States today with the recent arrival of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA; Adelges tsugae) that is killing eastern hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis)...
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Typically, after large stand-replacing fires in mid-elevation Sierra Nevada forests, dense shrub fields occupy sites formerly occupied by mature conifers, until eventually conifers overtop and shade out shrubs. Attempting to reduce fuel loads and expedite forest regeneration in these areas, the USDA Forest Service often disrupts this cycle by the logging of fire-killed trees, replanting of conifers and killing of shrubs. We measured the effects of these treatments on live and dead fuel loads and alien species and modeled potential fire behavior and fire effects on regenerating forests. Sampling occurred in untreated, logged and herbicide-treated stands throughout the Sierra Nevada in four large fire areas 4–21 years...
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Reports of decreasing quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) cover in forests of the western USA have caused concern about the long-term persistence of aspen on landscape scales. We assessed changes in overstory aspen dominance on the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado over a 20 year period. We measured stand density, species composition and regeneration in 53 undisturbed, mature pure aspen, pure conifer, and mixed aspen/conifer stands originally inventoried between 1979 and 1983. Ages of overstory and understory trees were used to evaluate long-term change in regeneration and overstory development. While pure aspen stands occupy 16% of the study area, mixed aspen and conifer stands cover 62% of the forested landscape...
We examined patterns of non-native plant diversity in protected and managed ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests of the Colorado Front Range. Cheesman Lake, a protected landscape, and Turkey Creek, a managed landscape, appear to have had similar natural disturbance histories prior to European settlement and fire protection during the last century. However, Turkey Creek has experienced logging, grazing, prescribed burning, and recreation since the late 1800s, while Cheesman Lake has not. Using the modified-Whittaker plot design to sample understory species richness and cover, we collected data for 30 0.1 ha plots in each landscape. Topographic position greatly influenced results, while management history did not. At...
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We compared avian communities among three timber harvesting treatments in 45-m wide even-age riparian management zones (RMZs) placed between upland clearcuts and along one side of first- or second-order streams in northern Minnesota, USA. The RMZs had three treatments: (1) unharvested, (2) intermediate residual basal area (RBA) (targeted goal 11.5 m2/ha, realized 16.0 m2/ha), and (3) low RBA (targeted goal 5.7 m2/ha, realized 8.7 m2/ha). Surveys were conducted one year pre-harvest and three consecutive years post-harvest. There was no change in species richness, diversity, or total abundance associated with harvest but there were shifts in the types of birds within the community. In particular, White-throated Sparrows...
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Over the last century, fire exclusion in the forests of the Sierra Nevada has allowed surface fuels to accumulate and has led to increased tree density. Stand composition has also been altered as shade tolerant tree species crowd out shade intolerant species. To restore forest structure and reduce the risk of large, intense fires, managers have increasingly used prescription burning. Most fires prior to EuroAmerican settlement occurred during the late summer and early fall and most prescribed burning has taken place during the latter part of this period. Poor air quality and lack of suitable burn windows during the fall, however, have resulted in a need to conduct more prescription burning earlier in the season....


map background search result map search result map Twenty-year change in aspen dominance in pure aspen and mixed aspen/conifer stands on the Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado, USA Twenty-year change in aspen dominance in pure aspen and mixed aspen/conifer stands on the Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado, USA