Early experiments with single-tree and group selection logging found that desirable species like sugar maples did a great job of regenerating in the sunny, rain-drenched harvest gaps – theoretically eliminating the need to replant.
But something has changed.
In a sweeping study of a huge swath of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Michigan State University researchers document that in many places, the sugar maple saplings that should be thriving following harvesting are instead ending up as a deer buffet. This means the hardwood forests are not regenerating.
The results of the study, "Gap-, stand- and landscape-scale factors contribute to poor sugar maple regeneration after timber harvest," are published in this month's online edition of the journal Forest Ecology and Management.
"We've found that deer, light availability, and competition from non-tree plant species are affecting sugar maple regeneration in parts of the Upper Peninsula," said Megan Matonis, who recently earned a master's degree in forestry while a member of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at MSU. "No sugar maples are regenerating in the southern area near Escanaba. In the future, this could challenge the sustainability of timber harvesting in this region."
Forest conservation is a persistent push and pull between maintaining crops of hardwoods, especially sugar maple, for the timber industry and herds of deer for hunters. The interplay between these conflicting resource uses can also impact bird habitat. Indeed, when Matonis, joined by Michael Walters, MSU associate professor of forestry, and James Millington, former post-doctoral researcher and now a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at King's College in London, ventured into the U.P. forests for the study, they were peppered with questions by both hunters and loggers -- Team Deer and Team Trees. "It's amazing how differently these two groups generally view the situation," Matonis said, "Some hunters feel there aren't enough deer in the forests whereas 'save a tree, kill a deer' is the sentiment of many loggers."
The study area stretches over some 3,000 square miles of public and private land from Crystal Falls to the west, east and south to Escanaba and north of Marquette. For two years, they examined the harvest gaps left in forests when hardwoods are cut down.Researchers examined several aspects – the amount of light in gaps of different sizes, competition from other plants on the forest floor, potential seed supply, and the relative richness and wetness of the soil. The goal: Determine what factors are affecting the regeneration of sugar maple. The results of this study fed into the development of a computer model designed to help balance those often-competing uses of the forests.
What they found is that in the north, where heavy snows push deer populations south in search of food during the winter, sugar maple saplings generally are thriving in the harvested areas.
"In some areas, this timber harvesting technique works great," Matonis said. "We were practically swimming through saplings."
Yet in the southern portion of the study area, there were areas where no saplings survive. Saplings are a tasty snack for hungry deer.
Matonis says that although munching by deer seems to be the main cause of low sapling densities in the south, other factors also make it a tough life for saplings. Low light levels in small gaps and competition from other plants also play roles in poor regeneration. A grass-like plant called sedge appears to out-compete tree saplings in many forests following harvests. Previous research conducted by Walters in the U.P. suggest that deer can help sedge take over by removing saplings and other plants that they find more appetizing.
The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Matonis currently is a doctoral student in forest science at Colorado State University and is an intern with the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C.
Sue Nichols | EurekAlert!
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
25.04.2017 | Life Sciences