United States Department of Agriculture
Dr. McCaskill evaluates the resilency of ponderosa pine, dry mixed conifer, moist mixed conifer, and lodgepole pine forests in response to restoration treatments through the collection and analysis of data on forest structure including downed woody debris, plant species richness, soil net ammonification and nitrification fluxes, numbers of ammonium-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), soil bacterial-to-fungal ratios, and soil chemical properties (available-P, pH, soil organic matter content); as indicators for change. Benchmarks along the restoration trajectories of each forest type are identified by chronosequencial analysis. A restoration dynamics model (RESDYN) will be developed based upon the analyzed field and laboratory data, and utilizing the object-oriented Python programming language.These bio-indicators are also used to evaluate the resilency of these four forest types to major disturbances such as bark beetles, western spruce budworm, extended drought, and wildfire. There is a special focus on the forest ecosystem of the Blue Mountains of Northeastern Oregon and Southeastern Washington State.
The forests within the northwestern United States are subjected to periods of drought and excessive precipitation. Having the ability to identify indicators for ecological resilency and to evaluate ecological conditiions after restoration treatments will give us the ability to predict future needs.
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