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Microclimatic and soil moisture responses to gap formation in coastal Douglas-fir forestsAuthor(s): Andrew N Gray; Thomas A Spies; Mark J Easter
Source: Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 32(2): 332-343.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionThe effects of gap formation on solar radiation, soil and air temperature, and soil moisture were studied in mature coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest, U.S.A. Measurements were taken over a 6-year period in closed-canopy areas and recently created gaps in four stands of mature (90–140 years) and old-growth (>400 years) Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco) forest in the western Cascade Range of central Oregon and southern Washington. Gap sizes ranged from 40 to 2000 m2. Summer solar radiation levels and soil temperatures differed significantly among gap sizes and positions within gaps and were driven primarily by patterns of direct radiation.
Nevertheless, effects on air temperature were slight. Soil moisture was more abundant in gaps than in controls, was most abundant in intermediate gap sizes, and tended to decline during the growing season in single-tree gaps and on the north edges of large gaps. However, there was substantial variation in moisture availability within individual gaps, primarily related to the variety of organic substrates present. Moisture in gaps declined over multiple years, likely caused by encroachment of vegetation within and around gaps. Low light levels probably limit filling of natural gaps in these forests, but the variety of microenvironments in large gaps may facilitate diverse plant communities.
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CitationGray, Andrew N; Spies, Thomas A; Easter, Mark J. 2002.Microclimatic and soil moisture responses to gap formation in coastal Douglas-fir forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 32(2): 332-343. https://doi.org/10.1139/X01-200.
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