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Aspen age structure and stand conditions on elk winter range in the northern Yellowstone ecosystem

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dc.contributor.advisor Kimerling, A. Jon
dc.contributor.advisor Ripple, William J.
dc.creator Larsen, Eric J.
dc.date.accessioned 2009-05-01T17:05:44Z
dc.date.available 2009-05-01T17:05:44Z
dc.date.copyright 2001-06-27
dc.date.issued 2001-06-27
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/1957/11405
dc.description Graduation date: 2002 en
dc.description.abstract Aerial photographs and field sampling were used to compare aspen (Populus tremuloides) age structure and stand conditions on elk winter range in the northern Yellowstone ecosystem. The elk winter ranges studied were the northern range in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and the Gallatin National Forest and the Sunlight/Crandall elk winter range in the Shoshone National Forest. I found significant differences when comparing aspen stands inside and outside of YNP borders. The aspen stands in the Gallatin and Sunlight/Crandall areas had a greater incidence of tall aspen suckers and stems in the 1-4, 5-9, and 10-19 cm DBH classes. Aspen stems within YNP had a significantly higher percentage of stems with high levels of bark damage (>66% of bark surface damaged on the lowest 3 m of stem) than aspen stems in stands in the Gallatin or Sunlight/Crandall. An aspen age structure was developed using 598 increment cores. The aspen age structure in YNP was significantly different than the age structures of the Gallatin and Sunlight/Crandall elk winter ranges. The Gallatin and Sunlight/Crandall areas did not have significant differences in their age structures. The greatest differences between YNP and the National Forest areas was in the younger age classes, measured as aspen stems originating between 1920-1989. Within YNP, I found that the aspen age structure, size class distribution, incidence of tall suckers, and the percentage of browsed suckers of the scree habitat type was significantly different than the xeric and mesic habitat types. Scree forms a "natural exclosure" where ungulate browsing is reduced. Aspen stands have successfully recruited new stems into their overstories in all habitat types from 1880-1989 on the Sunlight/Crandall elk winter range and the Gallatin's portion of the northern range. Within YNP, aspen stands successfully recruited new overstory stems between 1860-1929 in all habitat types. Since 1930, YNP aspen have successfully recruited overstory stems mostly in scree habitat type stands and other areas of reduced browsing pressure. I discussed several potential ecological factors impacting aspen overstory recruitment and conclude that changes in ungulate browsing patterns best explains the spatial and temporal pattern I observed. en
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.subject.lcsh Populus tremuloides -- Yellowstone National Park en
dc.subject.lcsh Elk -- Food -- Yellowstone National Park en
dc.title Aspen age structure and stand conditions on elk winter range in the northern Yellowstone ecosystem en
dc.type Thesis/Dissertation en
dc.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) in Geography en
dc.degree.level Doctoral en
dc.degree.discipline Science en
dc.degree.grantor Oregon State University en
dc.description.digitization Master files scanned at 600 ppi (256 Grayscale, 24-bit Color) using Capture Perfect 3.0 on a Canon DR-9080C in TIF format. PDF derivative scanned at 300 ppi (256 B&W, 24-bit Color), using Capture Perfect 3.0, on a Canon DR-9080C. CVista PdfCompressor 4.0 was used for pdf compression and textual OCR. en


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