Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Impacts of Tree-species Composition and Diversity on Ecosystem Services in Plantations of the Coastal Pacific Northwest: Assessing Values, Trade-offs, and Synergies Public Deposited

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  • The objective of this dissertation was to examine trade-offs and synergies between multiple ecosystem services derived from plantation forests in the coastal Pacific Northwest. I accomplished this in five chapters. In the first chapter I provided background information for the study. In the next chapter I set the context for assessing trade-offs and synergies between different ecosystem services by espousing value pluralism based on the recently proposed concept of relational values. Relational values provide a mode of articulating what diverse stakeholders deem important in their own context specific language and should be considered alongside instrumental and intrinsic values when assessing the value of ecosystem services. In the third chapter, I shifted focus to a field study on the relationships between tree species diversity and composition and three measures of ecosystem components in late-rotation, even-aged, intensively managed plantation forests of the Pacific Northwest (35-39 years of age). I observed variable patterns in the different measures’ relationships to tree species composition and diversity that could be explained by differences in tree species phenology, shade tolerance, and disease which mediate plant interactions. The results suggested plantation management focused solely on wood production may miss opportunities to provide other ecosystem services. I further tested this hypothesis by integrating the data from the field study with the relational values framework in the fourth chapter. I derived proxies for nine ecosystem services. I then determine the tree species composition that minimized trade-offs between subsets of the nine ecosystem services representing four different management frameworks. The ecosystem services included in each management framework were based on value priorities and the level of social organization corresponding to the benefits expected from the measured ecosystem services proxies. While most individual ecosystem services were optimized in monocultures, when multiple ecosystem services and values were considered simultaneously diverse mixtures of tree species were best. In the fifth chapter I synthesized results and concluded that within these managed plantations tree species diversity and human values interact to inform management decisions which shape the provisioning ecosystem services. Finally, I suggest future research focused on mechanisms behind ecological responses and connecting multiple levels of social, spatial, and temporal scales. Research that leads to a better understanding of the interrelationship between ecosystem functions, ecosystem services and values is needed to further test ecosystem services cascade theory.
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