I wanted to use this week’s blog post to share a draft of a poster that my colleague and I will be presenting next week at the UVM Student Research Conference. The contents are particularly heavy on the ecological side of our project, which crucially gathers information that will feed the more socio-economic portion, via economic models and decision support tools for forest managers. Please feel free to critique and make suggestions. We welcome your input. And be sure to stop by to learn about what other UVM students are working on! (details here)
Forest Ecosystem Service Trade-offs of Salvage Logging Following Wind Disturbance in Vermont Forests
Sarah Pears (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Eduardo Rodriguez (email@example.com), Ph.D. students
Kimberly Wallin(firstname.lastname@example.org), Research Assistant Professor, and Jon Erickson (email@example.com), Professor
A December 2010 windstorm rushed into Chittenden County, Vermont from the southwest, causing severe damage to patches of trees as large as 50 acres. Windstorms are important disturbances in the Northern Forest, where standreplacing events (e.g. forest fire, insect outbreak) are rare. Resulting damage may include heavy mature tree mortality, canopy disruption, reductions in tree density and size structure, and changes in environmental conditions (Dale et al. 2001). These types of storms are expected to increase in frequency due to climate change (Schelhaas et al. 2003).
After the 2010 storm, forest managers chose various strategies for management, driven by landowner stewardship objectives. Salvage-harvest, the cutting, collection, and removal of trees from damaged forest stands, occurred to varying degrees across Chittenden County. While the outcomes of salvage harvest post-fire have been studied, salvage harvest results and impacts following windstorms have not been adequately documented (Lindenmayer et al. 2008).
The purpose of this study is to quantify differences in terms of forest recovery, carbon sequestration and biodiversity across a range of blowdown and salvage harvest conditions. The study also provides an opportunity to study the spatial variation of these attributes across microsite characteristics including aspect, distance from undisturbed canopy edge, and slope.
Using the results from this proposed study, we will construct and parameterize a model that relates forest ecology and socio-economic impacts to disturbance and salvage harvest in the Northern Forest.
In addition to peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, we will make the study results an recommendations for post-disturbance management available to the community of forest landowners and managers through popular press articles and workshops.
We will study 30 forest sites of various sizes and damage intensities within Chittenden County, VT. Site characteristics: We will measure uncontrolled variation in site conditions,
• Stand age and silvicultural history
• Blowdown intensity and area
• Salvage harvest intensity, area, timing and equipment
• Site location
Forest recovery: We will exhaustively survey standing, live trees within each
site, and compare results with indicators of pre-storm forest conditions
(stumps, aerial photos, forest inventories) to quantify
• Compositional change: percent mortality post-blowdown and salvage
harvest, overall and by species
• Structural damage: change in basal area overall and by species
• Mode of recovery: regrowth, recruitment, release, repression (Everham and
Carbon sequestration: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
classifies carbon sequestered by forests in to five pools: above-ground
biomass, below-ground biomass, coarse woody debris, soil carbon, and wood
products. We will measure above-ground biomass (kg/ha) and coarse woody
debris carbon storage (kg/ha) at all sites.
Biodiversity: Ground-dwelling invertebrate community diversity is a generally
accepted indicator of overall biodiversity.
• Ground-dwelling invertebrate community sampling, using pitfall traps and
• Herbaceous plant surveys at sub-plots within sites
Statistics: The study is designed as a hierarchical regression model to test for
the impacts of blowdown damage and salvage harvest across sites. We will
describe patterns within site using a spatially repeated measures model.
Dale, V.J., L.A. Joyce, S. McNulty, R.P. Neilson, M.P. Ayers, M.D. Flanningan, P.J. Handson, L.C. Ireland, A.E. Lugo, C.J. Peterson, D. Simberloff, F.J. Swanson, B.J. Stocks, and B.M. Wotton. 2001. Climate change and forest disturbances. BioScience 51:723-734.
Everham, III, E.M. and N.V.L. Brokaw. 1996. Forest Damage and Recovery from Catastrophic Wind. Botany Review 62: 113-185.
Lindenmayer, D.B., P.J. Burton, and J.F. Franklin. 2008. Salvage Logging and its Ecological Consequences. Island Press; Washington, D.C.
Schelhaas, M.J., Nabuurs, G.J., and A. Schuck. 2003. Natural disturbances in the European forests in the 19th and 20th centuries. Global Change Biology 9: 1620–1633.
This project is funded by a grant from the USDA McIntire-Stennis Forest Research Program.