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Tree regeneration and soil responses to management alternatives in beetle-infested lodgepole pine forestsAuthor(s): Charles C. Rhoades; Robert M. Hubbard; Kelly Elder; Paula J. Fornwalt; Elizabeth Schnackenberg; Paul R. Hood; Daniel B. Tinker
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 468: 118182.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionRecent mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae; MPB) outbreaks have caused one of the most widespread and dramatic changes in forest condition in North American forests in more than a century and highlighted challenges facing resource managers. To address uncertainty regarding the consequences of post-harvest woody residue management on soil productivity and tree regeneration following MPB outbreaks in lodgepole pine-dominated forests we compared three treatment prescriptions (bole-only harvest, whole-tree harvest, and whole-tree harvest with scarification) and uncut stands. The study was replicated at twelve sites across a range of operational project areas and stand conditions in northern Colorado. Salvage logging generated a new cohort of lodgepole pine at densities far above the threshold considered adequate to develop into well-stocked stands (1700-2300 t ha-1 in logged compared to 537 t ha-1 in uncut areas). Regeneration density was generally highest in whole-tree harvested areas. Growth of planted and naturally regenerating lodgepole pine recruits was best in the bole-only, residue-retention treatment, where soil moisture and inorganic nitrogen supply was also highest. However, we found no indication that whole-tree harvesting lowered soil moisture, soil nitrogen supply or pools relative to uncut stands. The density of trees regenerating beneath uncut stands indicates that post-outbreak forest structure should recover without management in these forests. The cohort of trees that regenerated following MPB-related overstory mortality, but prior to harvesting, comprise the fastest-growing component of the growing stock and 30% of its density. The broader watershed-scale outcomes of these treatments and their implications for wildfire behavior and other effects remain uncertain. However, the soil and tree patterns we report during the initial post-treatment period inform on-going decisions regarding harvest and residue retention and create a platform to guide future forest management research.
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CitationRhoades, Charles C.; Hubbard, Robert M.; Elder, Kelly; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Schnackenberg, Elizabeth; Hood, Paul R.; Tinker, Daniel B. 2020. Tree regeneration and soil responses to management alternatives in beetle-infested lodgepole pine forests. Forest Ecology and Management. 468: 118182.
Keywordsbark beetle, salvage logging, whole tree harvest, slash treatments, soil nitrogen, soil carbon, forest disturbance
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