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Title: Spatial variability in microclimate in a mixed-conifer forest before and after thinning and burning treatments

Author: Ma, Siyan; Concilio, Amy; Oakley, Brian; North, Malcolm; Chen, Jiquan.;

Date: 2010

Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 259: 904-915

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: In the western United States, mechanical thinning and prescribed fire are common forest management practices aimed at reducing potential wildfire severity and restoring historic forest structure, yet their effects on forestmicroclimate conditions are not well understood. We collected microclimate data between 1998 and 2003 in amixed-coniferforest in California's Sierra Nevada. Air and soil temperatures, relative humidity, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), wind speed, soil heat flux, and soil volumetric moisture were measured at the center of 18 four-ha plots. Each plot was assigned one of six combinations of thinning and burningtreatments, and each treatment was thus given three replications. We found that spatialvariability in microclimate, quantified as standard deviations among monthly values of each microclimatic variable across different locations (n ¡Ü 18), was significantly high and was influenced primarily by elevation and canopy cover. The combination of thinning and burningtreatments increased air temperature from 58.1% to 123.6%. Soil temperatures increased in all thinned plots. Air moisture variables indicated that treatments made air drier, but soil moisture increased in the range 7.9¨C39.8%, regardless of treatment type. PAR increased in the range 50.4¨C254.8%, depending on treatment type. Treatments combining thinning and burning increased wind speed by 15.3¨C194.3%. Although soil heat flux increased dramatically in magnitude in some plots, overall treatment effects on G were not statistically significant. We discussed the significance and implications of the spatialvariability of microclimate and the treatment effects to various ecological processes and to forest management.

Keywords: Structure, Canopy gap, Logging, Fire, Disturbances, Fuel treatments, Teakettle

Publication Notes:

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Ma, Siyan; Concilio, Amy; Oakley, Brian; North, Malcolm; Chen, Jiquan. 2010. Spatial variability in microclimate in a mixed-conifer forest before and after thinning and burning treatments. Forest Ecology and Management. 259: 904-915.


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