Category Archives: Forestry Info Publications

Well-Read Robyn 12_5_14

Compilation by Robyn Darbyshire

Stephens, S. L., S. W. Bigelow, et al. (2014). “California Spotted Owl, Songbird, and Small Mammal Responses to Landscape Fuel Treatments.” BioScience 64(10): 893-906.

A principal challenge of federal forest management has been maintaining and improving habitat for sensitive species in forests adapted to frequent, low- to moderate-intensity fire regimes that have become increasingly vulnerable to uncharacteristically severe wildfires. To enhance forest resilience, a coordinated landscape fuel network was installed in the northern Sierra Nevada, which reduced the potential for hazardous fire, despite constraints for wildlife protection that limited the extent and intensity of treatments. Small mammal and songbird communities were largely unaffected by this landscape strategy, but the number of California spotted owl territories declined. The effects on owls could have been mitigated by increasing the spatial heterogeneity of fuel treatments and by using more prescribed fire or managed wildfire to better mimic historic vegetation patterns and processes. More landscape-scale experimentation with strategies that conserve key wildlife species while also improving forest resiliency is needed, especially in response to continued warming climates.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/10/893.abstract

 

Zamora-Cristales, R., P. W. Adams, et al. (2014). “Ground-Based Thinning on Steep Slopes in Western Oregon: Soil Exposure and Strength Effects.” Forest Science 60(5): 1014-1020.

Soil effects in vehicle trails were assessed on two cut-to-length thinning units that were very steep, averaging 65 and 58%, respectively. The thinnings in a young Douglas-fir forest included a harvester-cut, cable-yarded unit (harvester-cable) and a harvester-cut, forwarder-yarded (harvester-forwarder) unit. Steep vehicle trails covered 10% of the thinned area of harvester-forwarder and 15% of harvester-cable, and exposed soil occurred in 3% of the sample points in trail transects in harvester-cable and 7% of those in harvester-forwarder. After one harvester pass on harvester-cable, soil strength in vehicle tracks near the surface (25‐200 mm) was 19‐34% higher than that in undisturbed soil and 33‐40% higher after a second vehicle (forwarder) pass on harvester-forwarder; the latter unit also showed 21% higher strength in the 225‐300 mm layer after the second pass. Slash accumulations on the trails appeared to reduce vehicle effects on soil strength near the surface (25‐100 mm) on one of the units (harvester-forwarder), whereas no clear relationship was seen with variations in trail slope. Dry season operations, limited passes, slash in trails, and low ground-pressure vehicles with enhanced stability and traction features helped control soil disturbance and probably kept it within agency guidelines.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/saf/fs/2014/00000060/00000005/art00022

 

Negrón-Ortiz, V. (2014). “Pattern of expenditures for plant conservation under the Endangered Species Act.” Biological Conservation 171: 36-43.

An estimated 31% of the native plant species in the United States are considered at risk of extinction, and 11% receive protection under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA). But with current and projected threats, many at risk non-listed plant species will need protection under the ESA. Recovery priority guidelines based on a ranking system exist to help identify the most cost-effective use of limited resources to recover listed species. I analyzed how expenditures on listed plants from 2007 to 2011 corresponded to this system, the species’ status, and the year first listed. While the majority of species listed under the ESA are plants, they received < 5% of the funding for species recovery from federal and state agencies; thus they have the lowest per-species funding. Among plants, spending per species was greater for threatened than for endangered species and positively associated with recentness of listing date. Expenditure allocation was consistent with the ranking system, as higher priority species received more spending. Recovery progress could be significantly increased if more resources are allocated according to this system. In addition, I recommend: avoidance of biases that support specific projects or a few charismatic species; augmentation of the ESA budget to finance projects for the species in conflict with development and growth; cost-benefit analyses of increasing recovery funds for plants (since the cost estimated to recover a plant species average much less than a vertebrate species); and a broadened plant conservation message at local, regional and global scales.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320714000202

 

Tepley, A. J., F. J. Swanson, et al. (2013). “Fire-mediated pathways of stand development in Douglas-fir/western hemlock forests of the Pacific Northwest, USA.” Ecology 94(8): 1729-1743.

Forests dominated by Douglas-fir and western hemlock in the Pacific Northwest of the United States have strongly influenced concepts and policy concerning old-growth forest conservation. Despite the attention to their old-growth characteristics, a tendency remains to view their disturbance ecology in relatively simple terms, emphasizing infrequent, stand-replacing (SR) fire and an associated linear pathway toward development of those old-growth characteristics. This study uses forest stand- and age-structure data from 124 stands in the central western Cascades of Oregon to construct a conceptual model of stand development under the mixed-severity fire regime that has operated extensively in this region. Hierarchical clustering of variables describing the age distributions of shade-intolerant and shade-tolerant species identified six groups, representing different influences of fire frequency and severity on stand development. Douglas-fir trees >400 years old were found in 84% of stands, yet only 18% of these stands (15% overall) lack evidence of fire since the establishment of these old trees, whereas 73% of all stands show evidence of at least one non-stand-replacing (NSR) fire. Differences in fire frequency and severity have contributed to multiple development pathways and associated variation in contemporary stand structure and the successional roles of the major tree species. Shade-intolerant species form a single cohort following SR fire, or up to four cohorts per stand in response to recurring NSR fires that left living trees at densities up to 45 trees/ha. Where the surviving trees persist at densities of 60-65 trees/ha, the postfire cohort is composed only of shade-tolerant species. This study reveals that fire history and the development of old-growth forests in this region are more complex than characterized in current stand-development models, with important implications for maintaining existing old-growth forests and restoring stands subject to timber management.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-1506.1

 

Hoover, K. and M. J. Stern (2013). “Constraints to public influence in US Forest Service NEPA processes.” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 57(2): 173-189.

The Forest Service is mandated to involve the public during agency planning efforts, but involving the public does not necessarily mean the public will gain any influence over the planning decision. An earlier survey revealed that Forest Service team leaders commonly desire greater levels of public influence than they achieve in their planning processes. Informed by interviews with 16 Forest Service employees experienced with leading planning processes, this research explores the constraints to desired public influence. We found that agency personnel serve as key ‘gatekeepers’ to public influence through their decisions and actions during the process. Efforts beyond required procedures appear to often be necessary to translate normative public comments that might otherwise be dismissed into substantive public influence on analyses and subsequent decision making. Key constraints include a lack of perceived self-efficacy and fear associated with conflict, a lack of leadership commitment to public influence, overwhelming workloads and normative beliefs about the public informed by past and current negative interactions. Conversely, key catalysts include perceptions of self-efficacy in effective communications, strong normative commitments to the value of public influence at multiple levels within the agency, manageable workloads and recognition of discretion in addressing public comments by process leaders.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09640568.2013.849232

 

 

Well-Read Robyn 11_28_14

Compilation by Robyn Darbyshire

Campbell, J. L. and D. C. Donato (2014). “Trait-based approaches to linking vegetation and food webs in early-seral forests of the Pacific Northwest.” Forest Ecology and Management 324: 172-178.

Both the structure and composition of naturally generated early-seral forests in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) can be profoundly different than that of more developed forest seres, especially in the period after a major disturbance but before conifers re-develop a closed canopy. While it is reasonable to suggest that the unique structure and composition of early-seral forests in the PNW give rise to equally unique functionality, identifying such linkages beyond that inferred by empirical observation is understandably difficult. To address this challenge, we explore the utility of a trait-based approach to identify the vegetation traits most strongly altered by canopy-opening disturbances (using wildfires as an example), and link these traits to secondary production and subsequent food webs. Preliminary analysis, based on original and literature-derived data, suggests that (1) Lepidoptera production, the primary prey base for forest birds in the PNW, is positively correlated with specific leaf area (SLA) which is higher in stands recently opened by canopy disturbance and (2) small mammal production, an important prey base for meso-predators, is positively correlated with SLA, which is higher in stands recently opened by canopy disturbance. These initial results lay the framework for linking disturbance type, disturbance severity, and subsequent successional pathways to trophic processes uniquely provided by the early-seral condition.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112713007755

 

Riley, R., A. A. Salamov, et al. (2014). “Extensive sampling of basidiomycete genomes demonstrates inadequacy of the white-rot/brown-rot paradigm for wood decay fungi.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(27): 9923-9928.

Basidiomycota (basidiomycetes) make up 32% of the described fungi and include most wood-decaying species, as well as pathogens and mutualistic symbionts. Wood-decaying basidiomycetes have typically been classified as either white rot or brown rot, based on the ability (in white rot only) to degrade lignin along with cellulose and hemicellulose. Prior genomic comparisons suggested that the two decay modes can be distinguished based on the presence or absence of ligninolytic class II peroxidases (PODs), as well as the abundance of enzymes acting directly on crystalline cellulose (reduced in brown rot). To assess the generality of the white-rot/brown-rot classification paradigm, we compared the genomes of 33 basidiomycetes, including four newly sequenced wood decayers, and performed phylogenetically informed principal-components analysis (PCA) of a broad range of gene families encoding plant biomass-degrading enzymes. The newly sequenced Botryobasidium botryosum and Jaapia argillacea genomes lack PODs but possess diverse enzymes acting on crystalline cellulose, and they group close to the model white-rot species Phanerochaete chrysosporium in the PCA. Furthermore, laboratory assays showed that both B. botryosum and J. argillacea can degrade all polymeric components of woody plant cell walls, a characteristic of white rot. We also found expansions in reducing polyketide synthase genes specific to the brown-rot fungi. Our results suggest a continuum rather than a dichotomy between the white-rot and brown-rot modes of wood decay. A more nuanced categorization of rot types is needed, based on an improved understanding of the genomics and biochemistry of wood decay.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.pnas.org/content/111/27/9923.abstract

 

Halpern, C. B., M. Dovčiak, et al. (2014). “Substrates mediate responses of forest bryophytes to a gradient in overstory retention.” Canadian Journal of Forest Research 44(8): 855-866.

Forest bryophytes are sensitive to the disturbances and environmental changes associated with forest management. We asked whether the substrates on which bryophytes grow mediate responses to exposure following canopy removal. We measured bryophyte cover and richness in 0.1 m2 quadrats on the forest floor, decayed logs, and tree bases along a gradient of dispersed overstory retention (100%, 40%, and 15% of initial basal area) 7 to 8 years after harvest of mature Pseudotsuga forests. Cover, local richness, and, to a lesser degree, species evenness declined steeply across the retention gradient on decayed logs and tree bases but not on the forest floor. Liverworts were more sensitive than mosses, particularly on decayed logs and on the southwestern aspects of trees (>97% declines in cover under 15% retention). Richness and evenness at the treatment scale also declined sharply on decayed logs and on the southwestern aspects of trees but changed little or increased under 40% retention on the forest floor. Our results indicate that even moderate levels of dispersed retention cannot sustain the abundance and overall diversity of wood-associated bryophytes in these forests. During regeneration harvests, conservation of these species may require retention of intact forest aggregates in which substrate quality and microclimatic stability can be maintained.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2014-0059

 

Moritz, M. A., E. Batllori, et al. (2014). “Learning to coexist with wildfire.” Nature 515(7525): 58-66.

The impacts of escalating wildfire in many regions – the lives and homes lost, the expense of suppression and the damage to ecosystem services – necessitate a more sustainable coexistence with wildfire. Climate change and continued development on fire-prone landscapes will only compound current problems. Emerging strategies for managing ecosystems and mitigating risks to human communities provide some hope, although greater recognition of their inherent variation and links is crucial. Without a more integrated framework, fire will never operate as a natural ecosystem process, and the impact on society will continue to grow. A more coordinated approach to risk management and land-use planning in these coupled systems is needed.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature13946

 

Carver, S., J. Tricker, et al. (2013). “Keeping it wild: Mapping wilderness character in the United States.” Journal of Environmental Management 131: 239-255.

A GIS-based approach is developed to identify the state of wilderness character in US wilderness areas using Death Valley National Park (DEVA) as a case study. A set of indicators and measures are identified by DEVA staff and used as the basis for developing a flexible and broadly applicable framework to map wilderness character using data inputs selected by park staff. Spatial data and GIS methods are used to map the condition of four qualities of wilderness character: natural, untrammelled, undeveloped, and solitude or primitive and unconfined recreation. These four qualities are derived from the US 1964 Wilderness Act and later developed by Landres et al. (2008a) in “Keeping it Wild: An Interagency Strategy to Monitor Trends in Wilderness Character Across the National Wilderness Preservation System.” Data inputs are weighted to reflect their importance in relation to other data inputs and the model is used to generate maps of each of the four qualities of wilderness character. The combined map delineates the range of quality of wilderness character in the DEVA wilderness revealing the majority of wilderness character to be optimal quality with the best areas in the northern section of the park. This map will serve as a baseline for monitoring change in wilderness character and for evaluating the spatial impacts of planning alternatives for wilderness and backcountry stewardship plans. The approach developed could be applied to any wilderness area, either in the USA or elsewhere in the world.

 

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479713005690