Long-term stand dynamics in high-elevation Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir forests

Michael James Jull
For the high-elevation Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir (ESSF) biogeoclimatic zone of southwestern British Columbia, there is little empirical data on the long-term dynamics of subalpine spruce-fir stands. A lack of a long-term perspective on the growth and development of stands in the ESSF zone hinders both ecological research and silvicultural planning in the ESSF forest. A broadly-focussed pilot study on long-term Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir stand dynamics in the ESSF zone was designed to
more » ... one was designed to begin to address this deficiency. This study used two methodological approaches to gain insights into long-term stand dynamics: 1) a retrospective approach to examine historical patterns of: i) postfire conifer regeneration, ii) post-establishment stand structure development, and; iii) basal area production and accumulation in ESSF spruce-fir forests, and; 2) A chronosequence approach to examine overall stand basal area development over a 575-year chronosequence, which is not amenable to detailed retrospective examination. In order to reconstruct the patterns of postfire regeneration and subsequent stand development, measurements of tree age, diameter, radial increment, and height were collected in 8 mesic, 45- to 110-year-old fire-origin stands of Engelmann spruce (Picea engelmannii Parry. ex Engel.) and subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa (Hook.) Nutt.) in the ESSFwm and ESSFdc2 biogeoclimatic subzones of the North Cascades mountains. The results of the stand reconstruction were also used to aid in the interpretation of the chronosequence, which was based on basal area and age data from both the retrospective study sites, and the published literature. Based on the graphical analysis and discussion of the data collected in this pilot study, the following features of long-term stand development were noted in subalpine Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir stands: 1) Postfire conifer re-establishment on these burned ESSF sites was slow and erratic; the re-establishment period was 30 to 50 or more years in duration; 2) There a [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0098131 fatcat:bkdzkgtagjcklaokrd4hdwuk6q