Compilation by Robyn Darbyshire, Regional Silviculturist

Baker, S. C., C. B. Halpern, et al. (2016). “A cross-continental comparison of plant and beetle responses to retention of forest patches during timber harvest.” Ecological Applications 26(8): 2493-2504.

Timber harvest can adversely affect forest biota. Recent research and application suggest that retention of mature forest elements (retention forestry), including unharvested patches (or aggregates) within larger harvested units, can benefit biodiversity compared to clearcutting. However, it is unclear whether these benefits can be generalized among the diverse taxa and biomes in which retention forestry is practiced. Lack of comparability in methods for sampling and analyzing responses to timber harvest and edge creation presents a challenge to synthesis. We used a consistent methodology (similarly spaced plots or traps along transects) to investigate responses of vascular plants and ground-active beetles to aggregated retention at replicate sites in each of four temperate and boreal forest types on three continents: Douglas-fir forests in Washington, USA; aspen forests in Minnesota, USA; spruce forests in Sweden; and wet eucalypt forests in Tasmania, Australia. We assessed (1) differences in local (plot-scale) species richness and composition between mature (intact) and regenerating (previously harvested) forest; (2) the lifeboating function of aggregates (capacity to retain species of unharvested forest); and whether intact forests and aggregates (3) are susceptible to edge effects and (4) influence the adjacent regenerating forest. Intact and harvested forests differed in composition but not richness of plants and beetles. The magnitude of this difference was generally similar among regions, but there was considerable heterogeneity of composition within and among replicate sites. Aggregates within harvest units were effective at lifeboating for both plant and beetle communities. Edge effects were uncommon even within the aggregates. In contrast, effects of forest influence on adjacent harvested areas were common and as strong for aggregates as for larger blocks of intact forest. Our results provide strong support for the widespread application of aggregated retention in boreal and temperate forests. The consistency of pattern in four very different regions of the world suggests that, for forest plants and beetles, responses to aggregated retention are likely to apply more widely. Our results suggest that through strategic placement of aggregates, it is possible to maintain the natural heterogeneity and biodiversity of mature forests managed for multiple objectives.

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/eap.1406


Miller, M. E., W. J. Elliot, et al. (2016). “Rapid-response tools and datasets for post-fire remediation: linking remote sensing and process-based hydrological models.” International Journal of Wildland Fire 25(10): 1061-1073.

Post-wildfire flooding and erosion can threaten lives, property and natural resources. Increased peak flows and sediment delivery due to the loss of surface vegetation cover and fire-induced changes in soil properties are of great concern to public safety. Burn severity maps derived from remote sensing data reflect fire-induced changes in vegetative cover and soil properties. Slope, soils, land cover and climate are also important factors that require consideration. Many modelling tools and datasets have been developed to assist remediation teams, but process-based and spatially explicit models are currently underutilised compared with simpler, lumped models because they are difficult to set up and require properly formatted spatial inputs. To facilitate the use of models in conjunction with remote sensing observations, we developed an online spatial database that rapidly generates properly formatted modelling datasets modified by user-supplied soil burn severity maps. Although assembling spatial model inputs can be both challenging and time-consuming, the methods we developed to rapidly update these inputs in response to a natural disaster are both simple and repeatable. Automating the creation of model inputs facilitates the wider use of more accurate, process-based models for spatially explicit predictions of post-fire erosion and runoff.

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/WF15162


Lovett, G. M., M. Weiss, et al. (2016). “Nonnative forest insects and pathogens in the United States: Impacts and policy options.” Ecological Applications 26(5): 1437-1455.

We review and synthesize information on invasions of nonnative forest insects and diseases in the United States, including their ecological and economic impacts, pathways of arrival, distribution within the United States, and policy options for reducing future invasions. Nonnative insects have accumulated in United States forests at a rate of ~2.5 per yr over the last 150 yr. Currently the two major pathways of introduction are importation of live plants and wood packing material such as pallets and crates. Introduced insects and diseases occur in forests and cities throughout the United States, and the problem is particularly severe in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Nonnative forest pests are the only disturbance agent that has effectively eliminated entire tree species or genera from United States forests within decades. The resulting shift in forest structure and species composition alters ecosystem functions such as productivity, nutrient cycling, and wildlife habitat. In urban and suburban areas, loss of trees from streets, yards, and parks affects aesthetics, property values, shading, stormwater runoff, and human health. The economic damage from nonnative pests is not yet fully known, but is likely in the billions of dollars per year, with the majority of this economic burden borne by municipalities and residential property owners. Current policies for preventing introductions are having positive effects but are insufficient to reduce the influx of pests in the face of burgeoning global trade. Options are available to strengthen the defenses against pest arrival and establishment, including measures taken in the exporting country prior to shipment, measures to ensure clean shipments of plants and wood products, inspections at ports of entry, and post-entry measures such as quarantines, surveillance, and eradication programs. Improved data collection procedures for inspections, greater data accessibility, and better reporting would support better evaluation of policy effectiveness. Lack of additional action places the nation, local municipalities, and property owners at high risk of further damaging and costly invasions. Adopting stronger policies to reduce establishments of new forest insects and diseases would shift the major costs of control to the source and alleviate the economic burden now borne by homeowners and municipalities.

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/15-1176


Hatten, J. R., T. R. Batt, et al. (2016). “Effects of Dam Removal on Tule Fall Chinook salmon Spawning Habitat in the White Salmon River, Washington.” River Research and Applications 32(7): 1481-1492.

Condit Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric dams ever removed in the USA. Breached in a single explosive event in October 2011, hundreds-of-thousands of cubic metres of sediment washed down the White Salmon River onto spawning grounds of a threatened species, Columbia River tule fall Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. We investigated over a 3-year period (2010–2012) how dam breaching affected channel morphology, river hydraulics, sediment composition and tule fall Chinook salmon (hereafter ‘tule salmon’) spawning habitat in the lower 1.7 km of the White Salmon River (project area). As expected, dam breaching dramatically affected channel morphology and spawning habitat due to a large load of sediment released from Northwestern Lake. Forty-two per cent of the project area that was previously covered in water was converted into islands or new shoreline, while a large pool near the mouth filled with sediments and a delta formed at the mouth. A two-dimensional hydrodynamic model revealed that pool area decreased 68.7% in the project area, while glides and riffles increased 659% and 530%, respectively. A spatially explicit habitat model found the mean probability of spawning habitat increased 46.2% after dam breaching due to an increase in glides and riffles. Shifting channels and bank instability continue to negatively affect some spawning habitat as sediments continue to wash downstream from former Northwestern Lake, but 300 m of new spawning habitat (river kilometre 0.6 to 0.9) that formed immediately post-breach has persisted into 2015. Less than 10% of tule salmon have spawned upstream of the former dam site to date, but the run sizes appear healthy and stable. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/rra.2982


Ren, X., Y. Lv, et al. (2017). “Evaluating differences in forest fragmentation and restoration between western natural forests and southeastern plantation forests in the United States.” Journal of Environmental Management 188: 268-277.

Changes in forest ecosystem structure and functions are considered some of the research issues in landscape ecology. In this study, advancing Forman’s theory, we considered five spatially explicit processes associated with fragmentation, including perforation, dissection, subdivision, shrinkage, and attrition, and two processes associated with restoration, i.e., increment and expansion processes. Following this theory, a forest fragmentation and restoration process model that can detect the spatially explicit processes and ecological consequences of forest landscape change was developed and tested in the current analysis. Using the National Land Cover Databases (2001, 2006 and 2011), the forest fragmentation and restoration process model was applied to US western natural forests and southeastern plantation forests to quantify and classify forest patch losses into one of the four fragmentation processes (the dissection process was merged into the subdivision process) and to classify the newly gained forest patches based on the two restoration processes. At the same time, the spatio-temporal differences in fragmentation and restoration patterns and trends between natural forests and plantations were further compared. Then, through overlaying the forest fragmentation/restoration processes maps with targeting year land cover data and land ownership vectors, the results from forest fragmentation and the contributors to forest restoration in federal and nonfederal lands were identified. Results showed that, in natural forests, the forest change patches concentrated around the urban/forest, cultivated/forest, and shrubland/forest interfaces, while the patterns of plantation change patches were scattered sparsely and irregularly. The shrinkage process was the most common type in forest fragmentation, and the average size was the smallest. Expansion, the most common restoration process, was observed in both natural forests and plantations and often occurred around the previous expansion or covered the previous subdivision or shrinkage processes. The overall temporal fragmentation pattern of natural forests had a “perforation-subdivision/shrinkage-attrition” pathway, which corresponded to Forman’s landscape fragmentation rule, while the plantation forests did not follow the rule strictly. The main land cover types resulted from forest fragmentation in natural forests and plantation forests were shrubland and herbaceous, mainly through subdivision and shrinkages process. The processes and effects of restoration of plantation forests were more diverse and efficient, compared to the natural forest, which were simpler with a lower regrowth rate. The fragmentation mostly occurred in nonfederal lands. In natural forests, forest fragmentation pattern differed in different land tenures, yet plantations remained the same in federal and nonfederal lands.

FULL TEXT LINK:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301479716309604