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Title: Canopy microclimate response to pattern and density of thinning in a Sierra Nevada forest

Author: Rambo, T.; North, M.;

Date: 2009

Source: Forest Ecology and Management 257: 435-442

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Restoring Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forests after a century of fire suppression has become an important management priority as fuel reduction thinning has been mandated by the Healthy Forests Restoration Act. However, in mechanically thinned stands there is little information on the effects of different patterns and densities of live-tree retention on forest canopy microclimate. This study compared gradients of air temperature and vapor pressure deficit (VPD) through the vertical forest profile among an overstory-thin, an understory-thin, an un-thinned control, and a riparian environment in a Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest. Temperature and humidity were recorded for a year by 60 data loggers arrayed in 12 trees at 5, 15, 25, 35, and 45 m above the forest floor. Both thinning treatments had significantly more extreme summer daily ranges of temperature and VPD than the control across heights. The overstory-thin resulted in the greatest maximum temperatures, VPDs, and VPD range among all sensors at 5 m, and significantly higher summer maximum temperatures and VPDs than the control in lower strata (≤15 m). The understory-thin also had significantly higher summer maximum temperatures than the control (≤15 m), but these too were significantly less than in the overstory-thin nearest the surface at 5 m. Understory thinning did not alter the mean or range of microclimate as much as overstory thinning. Riparian microclimate had significantly lower minimums and means, and greater daily ranges of temperatures and VPDs than the control. Results suggest that thinning canopy cover significantly increases the extremes and variability of understory microclimate compared to thinning from below and no-thin treatments.

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Rambo, T., and M. North. 2009. Canopy microclimate response to pattern and density of thinning in a Sierra Nevada forest. Forest Ecology and Management 257: 435–442.


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