Research has implications for balancing habitat and wildfire management
Healthy forest ecosystems need dead wood to provide important habitat for birds and mammals, but there can be too much of a good thing when dead wood fuels severe wildfires.
Forest managers must balance concerns for wildlife habitat with reducing the chance for damaging wildfires.
Credit: Photo by U.S. Forest Service
A scientist with the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) compared historic and recent data from a forest in California's central Sierra Nevada region to determine how logging and fire exclusion have changed the amounts and sizes of dead wood over time. Results were recently published in Forest Ecology and Management.
PSW Research Ecologist Eric Knapp and a field crew visited three research plots initially established in 1929 in old-growth, mixed conifer stands on the Stanislaus National Forest. The stands had not burned since 1889 and were logged with a variety of methods later in 1929, shortly after the first survey of the plots.
In this study, Knapp and a research crew first used digitized maps to locate and re-measure all live and dead trees in the plots. They later used old plot maps to reconstruct the number and size of downed logs in the 1929 plots and also surveyed logs in the present-day plots.
The research crew compared their present-day data with those from 1929 and documented a more than nine-fold increase in the density of standing dead trees (snags) coupled with a decrease in the average diameter of the snags. Additionally, they observed nearly three times as many logs on the ground (coarse woody debris), but found a substantial decrease in the size of these logs. The majority of downed logs in the present-day re-measurement were highly decayed.
"Because larger-sized dead wood is preferred by many wildlife species, the current condition of more, smaller, and more decayed woody pieces may have a lower ratio of habitat value relative to potential fire hazard," says Knapp. Long-term dead wood changes in these forests pose a challenge for forest managers who must balance concerns for wildlife habitat with reducing the chance for damaging wildfires.
But dead trees, like live trees, can be managed. "To restore dead wood to conditions more like those found historically will require growing larger trees and reducing the addition of dead wood from small and intermediate-sized trees," says Knapp. "Forest thinning, through mechanical means and/or fire has been shown to slow the mortality rate of the remaining trees. In addition, using prescribed fire and low-intensity wildfire, which preferentially consume smaller and more decayed wood, would shift the balance to larger and less decayed pieces of dead wood, and help reduce fuels that contribute to uncharacteristically severe wildfires."
To read the paper, visit: http://www.
Headquartered in Albany, Calif., the Pacific Southwest Research Station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has research facilities in California, Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. For more information, visit http://www.
Stephanie Worley Firley | EurekAlert!
Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State
How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy