You are here

Mulching fuels treatments promote understory plant communities in three Colorado, USA, coniferous forest types

Posted date: January 05, 2017
Publication Year: 
2017
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 385: 214-224.

Abstract

Mulching fuels treatments have been increasingly implemented by forest managers in the western USA to reduce crown fire hazard. These treatments use heavy machinery to masticate or chip unwanted shrubs and small-diameter trees and broadcast the mulched material on the ground. Because mulching treatments are relatively novel and have no natural analog, their ecological impacts are poorly understood. We initiated a study in 2007 to examine the effects of mulching on vascular understory plant communities and other ecological properties and processes. We established 15 study areas in Colorado, USA, distributed across three broadly-defined coniferous forest types: pinyon pine - juniper (Pinus edulis - Juniperus spp.); ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) and ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii); and lodgepole pine (P. contorta) and mixed conifer (lodgepole pine, limber pine (P. flexilis), and other conifers). Measurements were conducted along 50-m transects 2-4 years post-treatment (2007 or 2008), and again 6–9 years post-treatment (2012), in three mulched and three untreated stands per study area. Mulching dramatically reduced overstory basal area (i.e., basal area of trees >1.4 m tall) and increased forest floor biomass (i.e., the biomass of litter, duff, and woody material

Citation

Fornwalt, Paula J.; Rocca, Monique E.; Battaglia, Mike A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Ryan, Michael G. 2017. Mulching fuels treatments promote understory plant communities in three Colorado, USA, coniferous forest types. Forest Ecology and Management. 385: 214-224.