Effects of Repeated Intensive Harvesting Practices, Prescribed Burning, and Browsing on Northern Hardwood Forest Plant Communities
Author: Michaela Kuhn
Graduation Year: 2020
Thesis Advisor: Amber Roth
Description of Publication: When extracting large volumes of biomass from our nation’s forests, it is imperative to consider the sustainability of these intensive harvesting practices on future forests and timber products, and wildlife habitat and populations. The goal of this study was to assess if plant density and ecological integrity are affected by strip-cut harvesting silvicultural practices, prescribed burning on slash left on site and slash residue left unburned, and mammalian browse. A summer 2019 inventory of plant species throughout Compartment 33 on the Penobscot Experimental Forest, a management unit that recently was harvested for the second time in the past 55years, which utilized whole-tree harvesting, stem-only harvesting, and stem-only harvesting with prescribed burning. We evaluated the effects of strip clearcutting (stem-only removal and whole-tree removal), burning, and mammalian browse one year after the stand was harvested and burned Harvests with slash removal and slash left on site had consistently higher diversity, but lower ecological integrity based on floristic quality assessments, when compared to areas without harvest. Slash removal in conjunction with burning reduced arboreal density, particularly that of softwood species, but did not negatively impact ecological integrity. Effect of mammalian browse varied heavily by treatment, and the plant communities present on site, but did not have an overall impact on stem density. Browse was found to be particularly important for diversity indices and floristic quality assessments within stem only harvest, and harvest with burning. This investigation provided insight into successional forest composition, density, and ecological integrity (diversity and floristic quality assessment) changes in arboreal and non-arboreal plant species in response to these disturbance effects.
Location of Publication:
URL to Thesis: https://digitalcommons.library.umaine.edu/honors/607/