The Salal Cedar Hemlock Integrated Research Program (SCHIRP) combines a suite of silvicultural trials with cutting-edge ecological research in order to 1) understand the underlying causes of poor conifer regeneration on sites dominated by ericaceous shrubs and 2) recommend best practices for improving tree growth. SCHIRP addresses goal 2 of the FSP strategic plan, To improve knowledge-based science in support of improving timber growth and value and goal 4, To ensure effective extension of science knowledge (4.2 Deliver research results to users through research summaries, articles, workshops and training sessions). SCHIRP fits the criteria for the Timber Growth and Value Program, Theme 2.0 Design and analysis of silvicultural systems (2.2 Even-aged stands), and specifically addresses the priority for assessment and analysis of ongoing fertilization experiments for efficient, high-yield timber production while providing for non-timber values. In 2005/06, we will remeasure two long-term trials established to assess the effects of silvicultural practices on tree growth in ericaceous-dominated sites and continue two soil ecological research studies. The Transitional SCHIRP trials were established in 1996 to assess the response of hemlock and cedar to fertilization and planting density on HA sites where salal encroaches during the stand establishment phase and growth check occurs. This trial, near Port McNeill, will be re-fertilized this winter and trees will be re-measured in early summer 2005. The Kennedy Lake trial was established in 1994 to determine the applicability of the results of early SCHIRP studies from northern Vancouver Island to similar sites on southwestern Vancouver Island. The study quantifies and compares combinations of tree species (western redcedar, western hemlock and 50:50 mixtures), density, mechanical site preparation and fertilization for plantation establishment on sites near Ucluelet, BC. Ten-year response measurements in tree height and diameter, foliar nutrient content, and understory vegetation cover will be measured. Soil ecological studies Studies on the diversity and function of mycorrhizal fungi and the mediation of soil processes by the soil microbial community will continue in 2005/06. We are using molecular and morphological approaches to test whether fertilization affects hemlock ectomycorrhizal diversity and to test whether mycorrhizal fungi are shared between salal and hemlock roots. During the next year, we will sample a total of 1200 hemlock ectomycorrhizae from three fertilized and three unfertilized plots. A common mycorrhizal network shared by hemlock and salal may allow for interspecific nutrient exchange and contribute to hemlock?s poor performance on salal-dominated sites We will test hemlock for the ability to form mycorrhizae with mycorrhizal fungi from salal and vice versa. We are testing the role of environmental factors, especially moisture, in influencing the composition and functioning of the soil microbial community in CH and HA forests. We are also testing the effect of a shift in microbial community structure on carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus cycling in the forest floor. Molecular and biochemical approaches are being used to characterize the microbial community and activity of key enzymes is being assayed with fluorescent-labeled substrates. Assessing the roles of forest floor microbes will increase our understanding of organic matter decomposition and availability of nutrients for tree growth.
Prescott, Cindy E.. 2007. SCHIRP: Ecology and management of ericaceous shrub-dominated ecosystems in coastal BC. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), Shrubs, British, Columbia
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