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Title: Forest ecology

Author: North, Malcolm;

Date: 2014

Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-247. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 103-126. Chap. 2.1

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: Building on information summaries in two previous general technical reports (PSW-GTR-220 and PSW-GTR-237), this chapter focuses on four topics raised by forest managers and stakeholders as relevant to current forest management issues. Recent studies suggest that the gap size in lower and mid-elevation historical forests with active fire regimes was often about 0.12 to 0.32 ha (0.3 to 0.8 ac). This small size was sufficient to facilitate shade-intolerant pine regeneration, probably because the surrounding forest canopy was more open than is common in modern fire-suppressed forests. Treatments that create these regeneration gaps may not significantly reduce canopy cover (a stand-level average), but they will create greater variability in canopy closure (a point-level measure), which may also increase habitat heterogeneity. A review of red fir forest literature suggests that these forests historically had a highly variable fire regime. Red fir in drier conditions and in locations well connected to forests with more frequent fire regimes probably had a shorter fire return interval. These forests may need treatment with managed fire or mechanical thinning to help restore their resilience to fire and potential climate change.

Keywords: ecological restoration, socioecological systems, ecosystem resilience, forest planning, fire management, altered fire regimes, wildfire, climate change, anthropogenic disturbance, invasive species, water resources, species of conservation concern, California

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.



North, M. 2014. Forest ecology. In: Long, J.W.; Quinn-Davidson, L.; Skinner, C.N., eds. Science synthesis to support socioecological resilience in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-GTR-247. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station: 103-126. Chap. 2.1.


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