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Ecology and management of dry Douglas-fir forests: The Opax Mountain Silvicultural Study
Arsenault, Andre
The Opax Mountain silviculture systems study is an interdisciplinary approach to collect and synthesize information on forest ecosystem responses to harvesting and site preparation disturbances. The study addresses ten key management issues at the Opax Mt. site: soil productivity, responses by vascular and non-vascular plants, conifer regeneration, conifer growth and yield, fauna including forest floor arthropods, amphibians, shrews, small mammals, cavity nesting birds, passerine birds, and small carnivores and ungulates in winter, natural disturbances and fire history, insect defoliators, site microclimate, snow accumulation and melt and windthrow. Coordinated activities at one site allow for interactions between research team members, they facilitate the exchange of data and diminish costly measurements by multiple investigators, and they facilitate field extension activities by providing comparative examples in a compact area. The Opax Mt. silvicultural systems site is a key facility for dry forests in the Southern Interior, providing an extensive set of treatments for long-term research and an established interpretive trail for field extension tours. This project provides information required to fulfill the science-based management strategic goal of the Ministry of Forests as well as addresses the 3 main objectives of the FSP for the Southern Interior Region as well as many of the priorities outlined in the FSP. Our study also addresses many of the recommended research topics for 2005/06. The best fit is under the timber value program, design an analysis of silvicultural systems theme, complex stand topic). Our study also addresses many of the management issues in the NDT4 strategy document (Klenner et al. 2001) and key members of the Opax project are also on the regional NDT4 committee as well as on other provincial committees. General objectives The main objective of this study is to evaluate the effects of six forest management treatments on a range of forest resources in Interior Douglas-fir forests and to gather baseline information on forest dynamics. Stand regeneration is a fundamental requirement of a successful silvicultural system. The treatments have therefore been designed to create a range of residual stem densities (% basal area removed: <20%, 35% and 50+%) and spatial characteristics (uniform removal vs. patchy). Consequently, there is a range of canopy gaps (0.01 ? 0.05 ha) in the partial-cut units and 1 ? 4 tree heights wide (0.09, 0.36, and 1.6 ha) in the patch-cut units. These treatments, plus a control area of similar size, were applied in two different areas in a randomized complete-block design. One area has an elevation range of 950 ? 1100 m in the IDFxh subzone, and the other, in the IDFdk subzone, has a range of 1200 ? 1370 m. A range of site preparation methods were also applied at a small scale (in limited areas of each unit). The treatments and research focus is on evaluating the costs and benefits of each treatment within an integrated resource management context. This proposal is a continuation of the second phase of the project and is scheduled to be completed at the end of April 2009. Our strategy for this proposal builds on the strengths of the first ten years of this long-term silvicultural systems study: a long time horizon, a common site and an interdisciplinary focus. The overall objective is to monitor the response of a number of ecological variables over a long time period, after the application of a range of canopy disturbances in a dry Douglas-fir forest, and to quantify the historical pattern of natural disturbances and stand dynamics. These results will enable us to reduce uncertainty and build predictive relationships between response variables that can be used in strategic stand and landscape modelling to improve stewardship decision making. The combination of a well replicated experiment, detailed monitoring, retrospective studies, and modeling makes this project ve ...
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