Extensive portions of the productive forests in coastal British Columbia display below-average timber productivity possibly due to excess soil water. In particular, conifers regenerating on some western red cedar/western hemlock sites on northern Vancouver Island show very slow growth and nutrient deficiencies after harvest. The research team hypothesizes that the low nutrient supply is caused by inadequate drainage in these sites which results in anoxic conditions and lower mineralization of carbon and nutrient.
Forest soils are a significant sink for the greenhouse gas, CO2. Concerns over climate change have led to increased interest in methods to increase the forest C sink. Fertilization of forests has been demonstrated to increase productivity of many forest types and this has an associated benefit of increased C sequestration in biomass. There is mounting evidence that N fertilization will also increase C sequestration in soil as more and more little material is produced. N also appears to interfere with the decomposition of this litter.
This project will use vegetation indicators of biodiversity to define response curves for measuring ecological resilience in three forest ecosystems in central BC. The vegetation indicators to be evaluated are: 1) the rate of regrowth; 2) the rate of recovery of species richness; and 3) the rate of recovery of original species composition. The research team hypothesizes that ecological resilience increases with site productivity and decreases with the length of intervals between wildfires.
Historical fire suppression and subsequent increases in fuel loading have led to more frequent and damaging forest fires across North America. This has prompted much research into how changing disturbance regimes affect forests and how to manage fires appropriately and in a more natural way. Parks Canada is interested in how disturbance regimes have shifted, how these shifts affect ecosystem function and what this means for management.
The BC Ministry of Forests and Range has recently undertaken a Future Forest Ecosystem Initiative (FFEI) whose purpose is to adapt the BC forest and range legislation and policy to a changing climate and to ensure BC’s forest and rangeland ecosystems remain resilient to stress. This research project helps to provide a scientific underpinning for the FFEI by developing mathematical models that predict how ecological resilience varies across environmental gradients and in response to cumulative environmental stress.
Growth and yield predictions are the basis of all forest management activities. The intern will conduct advanced research with the intention of improving growth and yield predictions by combining traditional models with a process-based stand development model. Typically, process-based models are more complicated and require special data as input and are difficult to use. Traditional growth and yield models are simple to use but often rely on extensive field measurement over long-periods of time.
The goal of this research project is to study the impact of average spacing between trees in terms of the growth and the quality of the trees. This practice, called pre-commercial thinning, was performed at four different spacings of 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, and 2.8m, and an unthinned plot was left as a control. An initial phase of analysis examined separately the effects on the growth and on the quality of the trees. A second phase will focus on the best trees and will examine the residual density which offers the best diameter growth and tree quality.
The current major outbreak of mountain pine beetle (MPB) in the central interior of BC has prompted research into planning of a future forest that is more resistant to this insect. In the summer of 2005, a lodgepole pine seed orchard was infested by MPB. The orchard contains many clones and the clones are packed in regular rows in a randomized fashion.