The Decline of Old Growth: A Comparison of Unmanaged and Managed Ponderosa Pine Forests

Service Learning Project, Jacinda Thomas

Biodiversity
• Unmanaged
– young trees crowd area – fierce competition
• fewer numbers of and smaller shrubs, herbs, and grasses
– lower biodiversity

• High biodiversity
– strong indicator of health

Comparison of Biodiversity Between Managed and Unmanaged Old-Growth Ponderosa Pine Forests
16 14
number

13.50

12 10 8 6 4 2 0

8.75

8.19

7.54

Managed Unmanaged

2.03 1.95 0.60 0.51 Species Richness Pileou's Evenness Index Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index

0.87 0.82 Simpson Index of Diversity Simpson Reciprocal Index

Comparison of Importance Values Between Managed and Unmanaged Old-Growth Stands (These represent the top 5 of 68 species of plant recorded)
20
relative importance (%)

16.7

15 10 5 0
ABICON ARNCOR FRAVIR PINPON POANER 2.8 2.9 3.1 8.1 9.1 9.5 6.8 2.3 3.6 Managed Unmanaged

Density
• Crowded stands
– Tree density high
• Trees compete

– Canopy dense
• Hinders smaller plants and brush to produce food
– Death takes away the nitrogen-rich material

• Stand weakens, disease sets in

Duff Layers
• Duff is the decomposing plant material on the forest floor
– Provides nitrogen for vegetation – Holds soil moisture – Blocks the sun – Cools the soil – Blocks raindrop erosion

Comparison of Relative Cover Under Managed and Unmanaged Ponderosa Pine Forests
70 60
relative cover (%)

61.1

50 40 30 20 10 0

41.8 27.3 21.9 6.1 9.5 25.1 Managed Unmanaged 5.7

Duff/Litter Rel Cover

DWD Rel Cover

Tree Rel Cover

Plant Rel Cover

Growth Rings
• Indicate amount of yearly growth • Healthier tree
– Less rings
• More growth occurs

40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0

Comparison of soil moisture, tree growth rates and disease frequency between managed and unmanaged old growth ponderosa pine stands in Coffeepot Flat on the Fremont Winema National Forest
32.5 17.95 9.33 2.18 soil moisture (%) 2.77 2.6 disease frequency (%)

Managed Unmanaged

growth rate (rngs/cm)

Basal Area – 264, TPA – 55, Canopy Cover 44%

Basal Area – 507, TPA – 293, Canopy Cover – 75%

Results
• • • • • • Lower tree density Higher percent soil moisture Higher biodiversity Faster growth (fewer growth rings/cm) Lower rates of disease Less duff

Conclusion
• Old growth forests falling apart
– Fire suppression
• high densities
– disease and insect damage

• Possible solution
– thin understory (historic fire effects)

• Concerns remain, should be considered