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Plant community responses to mechanical site preparation in northern interior British Columbia
- Haeussler, S., Bedford, L., Boateng, J.O., Mackinnon, A.
- Canadian journal of forest research = 1999 v.29 no.7 pp. 1084-1100
- Salix, Populus tremuloides, Picea glauca, Pinus contorta, Vaccinium, Alnus viridis subsp. crispa, plant communities, site preparation, plowing, trenching, prescribed burning, species diversity, stand structure, volume, nutrient availability, British Columbia
- Ten-year response of plant communities to disk trenching, plowing, rotoclearing and windrow burning was studied on two contrasting sites to address concerns that mechanical site preparation reduces structural and species diversity. Cover and height of all species on randomly located subplots within 0.05- to 0.075-ha treatment plots were used to develop indices of volume, structural diversity, and species diversity; to ordinate the plots; and to correlate species diversity with crop-tree performance. At both sites, community response was strongly influenced by the severity of site preparation. On a boreal site dominated by willow (Salix L. spp.), green alder (Alnus crispa (Ait.) Pursh ssp. crispa) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.), site preparation increased structural diversity and had little effect on species diversity. High-severity treatments increased non-native species abundance 10- to 16-fold while only marginally enhancing growth of planted white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss) over medium-severity treatments. On a nutrient-poor sub-boreal site, species diversity declined with increasing treatment severity and with increasing lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta var. latifolia Engelm.) stem volume. Velvet-leaved blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides Michx.) was highly sensitive to mechanical disturbance. Moderate mechanical treatments appear to improve conifer performance while causing little change to plant communities, but high severity treatments can cause substantial change.