Date of Award
Master of Science - Environmental Sciences
The human exclusion of wildfire and overgrazing by livestock since settlement have caused dramatic changes in ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Dougl ex Laws) forest ecosystems. These changes include increased numbers of tree stems, reduced understory cover and diversity, and the introduction of invasive, non-native understory species. This study evaluated the coverage and species composition of understory vegetation present in the “cool-season” (late spring and early summer) in a ponderosa pine forest on grazed and ungrazed plots that had undergone restoration treatments on three different soil/geologic parent material types near Flagstaff, Arizona, twelve years after tree thinning and grazing exclosure treatments were applied. Several measured soil properties, such as soil respiration and temperature, were also evaluated in this study. Species richness of “cool-season” vegetation was influenced more by grazing practices than restoration treatments. Differences could be less or greater when vegetation that is active later in the season is measured. Vegetative cover was significantly influenced by restoration treatments (9.3% cover under open canopies and 6.5% under dense canopies), probably due to differences in competition for light and other resources (i.e. soil moisture and nutrients). Unlike finding by Abella et al. (2015), who studied “warm-season” vegetation, “cool-season” understory cover was not influenced by soil parent material type in this study, which might suggest that differences in understory cover due to soil properties are only seen shortly after restoration treatments are applied, or the time of year vegetation is evaluated may play a role in the differences seen. Soil respiration was highest on limestone soil parent material type (3.3 g C-CO2 m-2 day-1), and soil temperature was lowest under closed canopy treatments (15°C).
Thomas, Elena M.; Farrish, Kenneth W.; Oswald, Brian P.; Shaw-Faulkner, Melinda G.; and Abella, Scott R., "Effects of Ponderosa Pine Ecological Restoration on Forest Soils and Understory Vegetation in Northern Arizona" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 82.
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