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A comparison of coarse woody debris in post-harvest and post-fire island remnants a decade after disturbance in northern Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Moore, Lance Parker
  • Retention forestry is the practice of retaining forest structure within cut-blocks at harvest sites and is practiced widely throughout the world. Although retention practices are modelled on the propensity for fires to leave behind a variety of biological legacies or structural elements, the comparison of post-fire and post-harvest residual forest structure has received little attention. Coarse woody debris is an important component of forest structure often influenced by management. I, thus, compared coarse woody debris attributes in residual patches in harvested areas and wildfire disturbed areas to determine how coarse woody debris was influenced by the different disturbances. During the spring of 2021, 30 sites (15 harvest and 15 fire) were selected that experienced a harvest or fire between the years of 2009-2011.
    Overall, coarse woody debris attributes were similar between fire sites and harvest sites. The coarse woody debris volume of early decayed wood (decay class 1 and 2) for fire islands had an average volume of 42 m3/ha; meanwhile, harvest islands averaged 31 m3/ha. The initial stand volume for both disturbance types in references and islands varied between 300-400 m3/ha and was not an important predictor of coarse woody debris volumes. Distributions of size classes in both islands and references were similar in fire and harvest disturbance types. This study found no evidence to support that edge and interior plots varied amongst each other or between disturbance types. The variability amongst the fires and the harvests surveyed was low and did not influence coarse woody debris attributes. Overall, a decade after disturbance, fire residuals and retention patches were found to be similar with respect to coarse woody debris attributes. This implies the long-term effectiveness of aggregate retention in ecosystem based management strategies on coarse woody debris volume and attributes within the mixedwood boreal forests of northern Alberta.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2022
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-4f2e-vd08
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Library with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.