Initial plant succession after brown and burn site preparation on an alder-dominated brushfield in the Oregon Coast Range Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/bg257h927

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  • A brown and burn site preparation project was monitored on an alder-dominated brushfield in the western Oregon Coast Range. Prefire vegetation was surveyed, and the fuel complex created by felling and aerial application of herbicides was evaluated. Post-fire vegetation was examined during the four months following the August, 1974, fire. Two other sites, similarly treated within the past five years were also studied, and an attempt was made to characterize early trends in plant succession following brown and burn treatment. Succession was evaluated with respect to the establishment of planted conifers. Animal influences on plant succession were also considered. Findings indicate that the site preparation treatment has greatly enhanced the potential of planted conifers to assume dominance over the project area. The treatment successfully removed the overstory of red alder, and severely damaged other hardwoods and tall shrubs. Early successional trends are characterized by the increased abundance of ground cover vegetation and the steady recovery of sprouting hardwoods and shrubs. In the absence of planted conifers, these hardwoods and shrubs would eventually become dominant. The introduction of planted conifers alters prospects for longterm succession. Young conifers have a good chance of assuming dominance on the site, although successful establishment of a well-stocked conifer stand is not ensured. The rapid response of sprouting shrubs could provide significant competition for site resources, The application of selective herbicides could be necessary to release young trees from shrub competition if a fully-stocked conifer stand is to be obtained. The use of large planting stock improves the outlook for conifer dominance; large trees are less susceptible to serious damage from browsing animals. Treatment of the area appears to have temporarily improved deer habitat, but has substantially reduced a previously large population of mountain beaver. The response of animal populations to habitat changes caused by treatment can influence the composition of stands later in succession. Selective feeding on conifer seedlings and on hardwood and shrub sprouts can be an important factor in long-term succession.
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