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Title: Novel characterization of landscape-level variability in historical vegetation structure

Author: Collins, Brandon M.; Lydersen, Jamie M.; Everett, Richard G.; Fry, Danny L.; Stephens, Scott L.;

Date: 2015

Source: Ecological Applications. 25(5): 1167-1174

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We analyzed historical timber inventory data collected systematically across a large mixed-conifer-dominated landscape to gain insight into the interaction between disturbances and vegetation structure and composition prior to 20th century land management practices. Using records from over 20 000 trees, we quantified historical vegetation structure and composition for nine distinct vegetation groups. Our findings highlight some key aspects of forest structure under an intact disturbance regime: (1) forests were low density, with mean live basal area and tree density ranging from 8-30 m2 /ha and 25-79 trees/ha, respectively; (2) understory and overstory structure and composition varied considerably across the landscape; and (3) elevational gradients largely explained variability in forest structure over the landscape. Furthermore, the presence of large trees across most of the surveyed area suggests that extensive stand-replacing disturbances were rare in these forests. The vegetation structure and composition characteristics we quantified, along with evidence of largely elevational control on these characteristics, can provide guidance for restoration efforts in similar forests.

Keywords: central Sierra Nevada, California, USA, fire severity, forest restoration, historical range of variability (HRV), mixed-conifer forest, timber inventories, vegetation classification, Yosemite National Park

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.

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Collins, Brandon M.; Lydersen, Jamie M.; Everett, Richard G.; Fry, Danny L.; Stephens, Scott L. 2015. Novel characterization of landscape-level variability in historical vegetation structure. Ecological Applications. 25(5): 1167-1174.

 


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