Intro To Forest Ecology


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  • Historic range of variability is increasing being used as a benchmark as our sophistication in reconstructing HRV – using pale ecological or dendrochronological techniques, historical records, and retrospective simulation modeling -- improves for many different ecosystem parameters. HRV is simply the concept that the conditions existing pre-European settlement probably represent a high level of integrity because those are the conditions that species evolved under and thus are adapted to. HRV is based on the recognition that ecosystems are dynamics due to disturbance, success ional processes, and climate variability, so values for any one parameter will fluctuate over time. There is really no limit to the number of ecosystem parameter that can be described this way, we are only limited by data availability and model sophistication. HRV is simply a reference point that can be compare against the current condition of a landscape and that helps us understand long-term change. It does not by any means mean that pre-settlement conditions are our objective. This is a common mis-understanding of this concept. Our management objectives will always vary depending on the social context, but we also benefit from describe HRV because it gives us a reference point for interpreting changes in indicators that we monitoring. It helps us understand the direction or the trajectory – for instance of success ional change or landscape representation of different habitat types – along which we are moving.
  • I quickly want to point out that HRV is scale dependent. The characteristic behavior of most ecosystem parameters is different depending on the scale examined because temporal variability tends to be blurred at increasing scale. So things are more variable over time at the scale of a watershed, versus a basin, versus an entire region. If we use HRV as a benchmark for monitoring, we have to very carefully address this scale-dependency.
  • I want to provide a quick and dirty example of the value of HRV for assessing long-term changes in New England. If we look at the history of forest change since European Settlement, long-term reforestation and recovery has been strongly influenced by the history of clearing and agriculture in the 19 th century, white pine colonization and subsequent clearcutting, the loss of Chestnut and Elm, and commercial forest management practices favoring certain species and limiting or truncating stand development in the 20 th century.
  • Intro To Forest Ecology

    1. 1. Introduction to Forest Ecology: Peter Woods Ellis Forest Ecologist Ellis Ecological Services January 15, 2010 Tools for Interpreting and Understanding the New Hampshire Forest Landscape
    2. 2. Concepts of Forest Ecology <ul><li>Put simply, forest ecology examines how the living organisms in the forest interact with one another and the physical environment </li></ul>
    3. 3. “ Ecosystems” can be quite complex… <ul><li>Botany </li></ul><ul><li>Tree Physiology </li></ul><ul><li>Physiography </li></ul><ul><li>Pathology </li></ul><ul><li>Entomology </li></ul><ul><li>Soil Science </li></ul><ul><li>… and other -ologys </li></ul>
    4. 4. A Tool for Sorting Out the Complexity: Pieces Patterns Processes Composition Structure Function
    5. 5. Forest Ecology – 3 Major Topics <ul><li>Site </li></ul><ul><li>Forest Succession </li></ul><ul><li>Natural Disturbance </li></ul>Pieces Patterns Processes
    6. 6. Site <ul><li>Climate </li></ul><ul><li>Substrate </li></ul><ul><li>Hydrology </li></ul><ul><li>Light </li></ul>
    7. 7. Climate <ul><li>At the broadest scale, climate dictates what can grow… </li></ul>Source: Bailey (1988)
    8. 8. Substrate <ul><li>Soil Type </li></ul><ul><li>Parent Material </li></ul><ul><li>Bedrock </li></ul>“ Layer Cake”
    9. 9. Bedrock <ul><li>bedrock “formations” based on age and composition </li></ul><ul><li>Igneous, Metamorphic, or Sedimentary </li></ul>
    10. 10. Parent Material <ul><li>Differs in particle size and ability to supply nutrients and water </li></ul>(Material from which soils develop)
    11. 11. Soil <ul><li>Particle size (surface area) is related to soil porosity. </li></ul><ul><li>Most plants grow most effectively in soils that are not too wet or too dry – “Mesic” </li></ul>“ Hydric” Wet “ Mesic” Moist “ Xeric” Dry Continuum of Soil Moisture
    12. 12. Hydrology <ul><li>Hydrologic Features (“Patterns”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Streams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeps </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hydrologic Functions (“Processes”) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transport of nutrients </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feedback: change in vegetation can change hydrology </li></ul></ul>Relationship between water and ecosystems
    13. 13. Light <ul><li>Enables plants to create energy  photosynthesis! </li></ul><ul><li>Leaves growth in response to availability of light </li></ul><ul><li>Shade Tolerance </li></ul>
    14. 14. Shade Tolerance
    15. 15. Site is often understood by categorization Stand Type or Natural Community
    16. 16. Natural communities are recurring assemblages of plants and animals found in particular physical environments – the full suite of potential vegetation and their associated organisms. Stand types are used by foresters to succinctly describe the dominant trees within a particular “stand.”
    17. 17. Stand Types
    18. 18. Natural Communities
    19. 21. Forest Succession <ul><li>Change is the Rule </li></ul><ul><li>Models of succession </li></ul><ul><li>Biological Legacy </li></ul><ul><li>Land-use History </li></ul><ul><li>Pre-settlement Forest Composition </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple Successional Pathways </li></ul>
    20. 22. CHANGE: Forest Ecosysyems are Dynamic Historical Range of Variability (HRV) HRV Courtesy of William Keeton
    21. 23. … and those dynamics are Scale Dependent
    22. 24. HRV HRV HRV Scale: Small Watershed Scale: Drainage Basin Scale: Region Hurricane Hurricanes Source: Aplet and Keeton (1999)
    23. 25. Models of Succession Adapted from Franklin et al. (2002). From the Harvard Forest dioramas
    24. 26. Biological Legacy No Biological Legacy Courtesy of William Keeton
    25. 27. Forest Cover Trends in New England Since European Settlement Courtesy of William Keeton
    26. 28. Pre-settlement Forest Composition Figure from Cogbill (2002)
    27. 29. Differences Between Pre-Settlement and Current Forests in VT and NH <ul><li>Species: Abundance : </li></ul><ul><li>Chestnut </li></ul><ul><li>Elm </li></ul><ul><li>Beech </li></ul><ul><li>Sugar Maple </li></ul><ul><li>Hemlock </li></ul><ul><li>White Pine </li></ul><ul><li>Red Spruce </li></ul><ul><li>White Birch </li></ul><ul><li>Cottonwood </li></ul><ul><li>Pin Cherry </li></ul><ul><li>Red Maple </li></ul>Functionally Extirpated Communities: Abundance: Old-Growth Forest of All Types Floodplain Silver Maple and Sugar Maple Rich Lowland Oak/Basswood/Ash Forested Wetlands Native Grasslands and Shrublands Forest Composition Sources: Cogbill (2000); McLachlan et al. (2000); Fuller et al. 1998; Foster 1992; Siccama (1971)
    28. 30. Altered Successional Pathways Resulting from a Complex History of Land-use Figure from Foster (1992)
    29. 32. Natural Disturbance <ul><li>Definition </li></ul><ul><li>Factors to consider </li></ul><ul><li>Impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Types </li></ul>
    30. 33. Definition of Natural Disturbance “ a relatively discrete event in time that disrupt ecosystems, their composition, structure, and function”
    31. 34. Factors to Consider <ul><li>Scale </li></ul><ul><ul><li>broad or local </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intensity & Frequency </li></ul><ul><ul><li>dependence or irrevocable change? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Return intervals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interactions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Drought/Infestation  Fire  Windthrow </li></ul></ul>
    32. 35. Impacts <ul><li>Direct mortality </li></ul><ul><li>Indirect mortality </li></ul><ul><li>Interactions and Synergy </li></ul>Mortality Regeneration <ul><li>Light </li></ul><ul><li>Biological legacies </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Legacies </li></ul>
    33. 36. Types of Natural Disturbances (in New England) <ul><li>Flooding </li></ul><ul><li>Fire </li></ul><ul><li>Wind </li></ul><ul><li>Ice </li></ul><ul><li>Insects </li></ul><ul><li>Disease </li></ul>
    34. 37. Flooding <ul><li>Return Intervals </li></ul><ul><li>Affects vegetation within the floodplain </li></ul><ul><li>Topography results in niches (communities) </li></ul><ul><li>Beavers! </li></ul>
    35. 38. Fire <ul><li>Fequency </li></ul><ul><li>Intensity </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, fires do occur naturally in NH - Ossipee region and…Concord! </li></ul>Photos Courtesy of William Keeton
    36. 39. Wind <ul><li>Big wind events 50-100 years </li></ul><ul><li>Tip and mound micro-topography / snaps </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller events: downbursts, fir-waves, and … </li></ul><ul><li>Tornadoes! </li></ul>
    37. 40. Ice Storms <ul><li>December 2008 in NH </li></ul><ul><li>400,000 customers without power! </li></ul><ul><li>5 inches of freezing rain </li></ul>Steve Roberge, UNH Cooperative Extension Steve Roberge, UNH Cooperative Extension Steve Roberge, UNH Cooperative Extension
    38. 41. Insects <ul><li>Hemlock Wooly Adelgid </li></ul>Others (bark beetles, inner bark borers, etc.) <ul><li>Gypsy Moth </li></ul>
    39. 42. Disease <ul><li>Butternut Canker </li></ul>Root fungi, stems rots, cankers etc.
    40. 43. Disturbance clearly linked to the other ecological components discussed: - Succession - Site - and always more…
    41. 44. Pieces Patterns Processes