Ten-year responses of ponderosa pine growth, vigor, and recruitment to restoration treatments in the Bitterroot Mountains, Montana, USA

Alex Fajardo, Jonathan M. Graham, John M. Goodburn, Carl E. Fiedler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Little is known about ponderosa pine forest ecosystem responses to restoration practices in the Northern Rocky Mountains, USA. In this study, restoration treatments aimed at approximating historical forest structure and disturbances included modified single-tree selection cutting, with and without prescribed burning. We compared the effectiveness of restoration treatments on growth, vigor, and composition of recruitment responses with untreated controls. We used a randomized block design to detect treatment differences in mean individual tree basal area increment (BAInc10), growth efficiency (GE), and recruitment abundance between two restoration treatments (Cut-only and Cut-burn) and a Control. We further examined treatment effects by tree age-class (Young, Mature, Presettlement) using a spatial ANOVA model that incorporates the spatial autocorrelation among trees within experimental units. Ten years after implementing restoration treatments, mean individual tree BAInc10 and GE were significantly higher for treated units relative to Control units; all three age-classes benefited similarly from restoration treatments relative to the Control, with the greatest response in the Cut-only and moderate response in the Cut-burn. When treated units were compared, Cut-burn negatively affected BAInc10 and GE relative to Cut-only. Presettlement trees responded positively to treatment relative to the Control, particularly for BAInc10, demonstrating the potential of these old trees to respond to reduced competition. The Cut-burn treatment, in contrast, negatively affected the BAInc10 and GE response of postsettlement trees when compared to Cut-only. Restoration treatments did not reduce the amount of Douglas-fir recruits. In addition, the recruitment of both ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir species was associated with the proximate cover of woody debris in Cut-only and Control treatments. Finally, special consideration needs to be taken for spring Cut-burn treatments, which appeared to dampen growth and vigor, relative to Cut-only, particularly for Young and Mature trees, and increased recruitment of ponderosa pine and particularly Douglas-fir.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-60
Number of pages11
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume243
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 15 2007

Keywords

  • Growth efficiency
  • Prescribed burning
  • Regeneration
  • Restoration
  • Semivariograms
  • Spatial ANOVA

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