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Wildlife Responses to Thinning Red Pine

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Red pine is the most intensively managed conifer type in the Lake States, but its typical stand structure of a closed canopy with little understory results in poor wildlife habitat. We evaluated the effects of thinning mature red pine stands on wildlife habitat attributes and use. Red pine stands were thinned to a residual basal area of 16.1 m²/ha and 25.3 m²/ha and compared with controls (>32.1 m²/ha) in terms of understory development, small mammal use, and ungulate use. Overstory thinning resulted in increased woody shrub densities and understory productivity. Small mammal populations tended to increase with overstory thinning, but the results were inconclusive. Elk and deer use increased with overstory removal. Increased ungulate use was likely attributable to increased forage quantity and quality and increased hiding/security cover attributes of the thinned stands. We conclude that overstory thinning can be an effective means of enhancing wildlife habitat and increasing wildlife use of red pine. North. J. Appl. For. 14(3):141-146.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Boise-Cascade Corporation, One Jefferson Square, Boise, ID 83728

Publication date: 1997-09-01

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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