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Effects of Forest Type and Disturbance on Diversity of Coarse Woody Debris in Boreal Forest

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Abstract

Coarse woody debris (CWD) volume and diversity are vital attributes of forest ecosystems. However, despite their importance, their long-term dynamics associated with fire- or logging-origin and overstory type have not been examined in boreal forest. We hypothesize that (1) CWD compositional diversity increases with stand development whereas CWD volume follows a U-shaped pattern. Furthermore, we attempted to test if (2) CWD volume and compositional diversity converge for postlogged and postfire stands through stand development, and (3) mixedwoods have more CWD volume and greater compositional diversity than conifer or broadleaf overstory types. We sampled 72 stands ranging in age from 7 to 201 years in fire-origin stands and 7–31 years in managed stands with conifer, mixedwood, and broadleaf overstory types in central boreal Canada. For fire-origin stands, snag volume was 100–260 m3/ha in 7-year-old stands, 5–20 m3/ha in 25-year-old stands, and 25–60 m3/ha in older stands; downed woody debris (DWD) volume decreased from 7 to 72–90 year-old stands, increased in 124- to 139-year-old stands, then either decreased or increased in 201-year-old stands depending on overstory type. CWD diversity increased from 25 to 124–139 year-old and plateaued, but in 7-year-old stands, CWD diversity was as high as that in the 124 and up year-old age classes. Logging resulted in a smaller amount and lower size variability of CWD in 7-year-old stands, with a larger portion being fast-decomposing Betula papyrifera. Most CWD characteristics had not converged by approximately 30 years since disturbance between the two stand origins. More diverse CWD occurred in mixedwoods, but conifer stands contained the greatest CWD volume except in 7 year-old postfire stands.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Paul Poschmann, Fort Williams Division of Abitibi-Consolidated for assistance with site selection in the Spruce River Forest. The authors also thank Drs. Peter Duinker, Jian Wang, Vic Lieffers, and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments of an earlier draft, and Jennifer Fricker, Stephen Hart, Martina Köhler, Nick Dang, and Pat Cybulski for assistance with field and laboratory work. This study was supported by the National Centres of Excellence-Sustainable Forest Management Networks and a Discovery grant (283336-2004) and a Strategic Project grant (STPGP 322297) from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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Correspondence to Han Y. H. Chen.

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B. W. Brassard collected and analyzed data and wrote the paper. H. Y. H. Chen conceived and designed the study, analyzed data, and critiqued earlier drafts of the paper.

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Brassard, B.W., Chen, H.Y.H. Effects of Forest Type and Disturbance on Diversity of Coarse Woody Debris in Boreal Forest. Ecosystems 11, 1078–1090 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-008-9180-x

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