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Publication Information

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Title: PAST CLIMATES, FORESTS, AND DISTURBANCES OF THE SIERRA NEVADA, CALIFORNIA: UNDERSTANDING THE PAST TO MANAGE FOR THE FUTURE

Author: Laudenslayer, William F.; Skinner, Carl N.

Date: 1995

Source: 1995 TRANSACTIONS OF THE WESTERN SECTION OF THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY 31:19-26

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: The forests of the Sierra Nevada have been altered for millennia by climate, natural disturbances, and more recently by the activities of humans. Management of these forests and their resources as ecosystems to meet diverse objectives, requires an understanding of the conditions under which existing forests developed and how they have changed through time. Recently accumulated information suggests that the interactions of factors such as geographic position, topography, and shifts in climate have resulted in substantial spatial and temporal variation in the vegetation composition and structure of the forests of the Sierra Nevada. These forests are substantially different today than they were a century ago. The climate of the last 1,000 years appears to have been drier and wildfires were more frequent than at present. Consequently, the forests, especially pine and mixed conifer, were generally more open with fewer trees, but a greater proportion of larger diameter trees and fewer shade-tolerant or fire-intolerant trees. Although the evidence supporting this description of the average forest condition is persuasive, there is currently little information on the variation in forest structure and composition across the landscape and through time. Nor is there much information on the i-elations of other plants and animals to the changing forests. As forest managers seek to manage forests as ecosystems, information on the structural and compositional variation of forests in the Sierra Nevada through space and time should be used as the basis of management objectives.

Keywords: climate change, disturbances, ecosystems, forests, Holocene, management, Pleistocene, Sierra Nevada

Publication Notes:

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  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to rschneider@fs.fed.us to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)

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Laudenslayer, William F.; Skinner, Carl N. 1995. PAST CLIMATES, FORESTS, AND DISTURBANCES OF THE SIERRA NEVADA, CALIFORNIA: UNDERSTANDING THE PAST TO MANAGE FOR THE FUTURE. 1995 TRANSACTIONS OF THE WESTERN SECTION OF THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY 31:19-26

 


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