, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 219-228

Change in spatial characteristics of forest openings in the Klamath Mountains of northwestern California, USA

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Change in the spatial characteristics of forest openings was investigated in three forested watersheds in north-western Siskiyou County, California totalling approximately 24,600 hectares. Watersheds with minimal human disturbance were chosen for study. However, fire suppression has been pervasive throughout. Characteristics of forest openings (area, perimeter, distance between neighboring openings) were measured on aerial photographs taken 41 years apart. An index of regional form was determined for the landscape. Shape complexity for each opening was calculated using two indices based upon fractals. Significant differences were found using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov two-sample test between the perimeters, areas, distance from sample point to nearest opening, and distance between neighboring openings. The perimeters and areas became smaller, and the distances from the sample point to the nearest opening and between neighboring openings became greater over the 41 years between aerial photo sets. The estimated area occupied by openings decreased from 25.8 % to 15.6 % of the study area. No significant difference was found in the shape of the openings except as the shape indices were influenced by changes in size of the openings.

This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and it is therefore in the public domain and not subject to copyright.