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Long-term snag and downed woody debris dynamics under periodic surface fire, fire suppression, and shelterwood management

Vanderwel, Mark C., Malcolm, Jay R., Smith, Sandy M.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2009 v.39 no.9 pp. 1709–1721
coarse woody debris, logging, silvicultural practices, fires, shelterwood systems, snags, density, volume, forest stands, stand management, old-growth forests, coniferous forests, Pinus resinosa, Pinus strobus, simulation models, Ontario
There are pronounced differences in the processes that act to determine the type and amount of standing and downed coarse woody debris present under partial harvesting versus other noncatastrophic disturbances. To evaluate long-term differences in snag and downed woody debris (DWD) dynamics, we developed a simulation model to project snag density and DWD volume by size and decay class in white pine (Pinus strobus L.) and red pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.) dominated stands under (i) a high-retention shelterwood system, (ii) periodic surface fire, and (iii) fire suppression. Snag densities under a high-retention shelterwood system were consistently lower than those in the fire-suppression and surface-fire scenarios, even if no large snags were felled at the time of harvest. Regular inputs from harvest residues were important in maintaining the total volume of DWD, but this material tended to be concentrated in a narrow range of decay classes at any given time. Preserving existing DWD at harvest was less influential than the level of inputs from harvest residues. Active measures for snag creation and staggering of harvest stages among adjacent stands may help minimize differences in the overall supply and temporal variation of coarse woody debris between managed and both naturally disturbed and old-growth stands.