Applications of ecological modeling in managing Central Appalachian upland oak stands for old-growth characteristics.
Grinter, Lawton E.
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Old-growth forests provide important habitat for wildlife, support the maintenance of biodiversity and serve as control areas for scientific research. Expanding current old-growth stand area by utilizing neighboring younger, managed stands allows private landowners to meet management needs and enables government agencies and private conservation organizations to meet old-growth forest objectives. Seven old-growth upland oak stands and seven adjacent younger, managed stands of the same site and stand type were measured in the Ridge and Valley, Blue Ridge, and Piedmont provinces of Virginia and Pennsylvania in an effort to characterize species composition, diameter distribution and canopy structure. A computer-based ecosystem/gap model (JABOWA-3) was modified and used to simulate silvicultural manipulations in the younger stands that would reproduce older forest characteristics. Various silvicultural techniques were used to convert the primarily even-aged younger stands into uneven-aged stands and then into old-growth. These manipulations included single-tree selection, herbicide application, culling larger diameter stems and planting seedlings where required. Individual trees within each of the younger, managed stands were removed at various time intervals and these simulated stands were then projected to a point in time in which the stand approximated the diameter distribution and composition of its paired old-growth stand. Several projections were made in each of the younger stands to meet this objective. Once a satisfactory projection was made for conversion of a younger stand to old-growth, a success rate was determined to gauge how close the simulated stand approximated the diameter distribution and composition of its old-growth counterpart. From this information, biologically feasible and environmentally sound management plans were created to carry out the silvicultural manipulations required by the model for each of the sites.
- Masters Theses