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Manual Cutting of Sitka Alder-Dominated Plant Communities: Effects on Conifer Growth and Plant Community Structure

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Five-year growth and survival responses of lodgepole pine and hybrid spruce to manual cutting of Sitka alder were studied in two montane vegetation complexes in interior British Columbia. The effects of brushing on plant community diversity and structure also were examined. Alder cover and height were reduced throughout the 5-year posttreatment measurement period, but this had no effect on growth or survival of either 5- to 7-year-old lodgepole pine growing in the Dry Alder complex or 4- to 7-year-old hybrid spruce in the Wet Alder complex. Moderate alder cover, which was characteristic at these sites, did not appear to inhibit diameter growth of lodgepole pine or spruce. This was supported by competition thresholds for conifer diameter of 30 and 37% alder cover in the Dry Alder and Wet Alder complexes, respectively. In neither complex did manual cutting result in any changes in species richness, species diversity, or structural diversity of the vascular plant community. The results of this study suggest that brushing of Sitka alder is unnecessary for release of healthy lodgepole pine growing on mesic sites in the Dry Alder complex and is ineffective at alleviating growth limiting factors to spruce on Wet Alder sites. West. J. Appl. For. 19(4):277–287.

Keywords: Sitka alder; Vegetation management; competition; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; hybrid spruce; lodgepole pine; natural resource management; natural resources; plant community structure

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Forest Science Department University of British Columbia Vancouver BC Canada Phone: (604) 822-1955;, Fax: (604) 822-9102, Email: 2: J. Heineman Consulting Vancouver BC Canada 3: Research Consultant Richmond BC Canada 4: Skyline Forestry Consultants, Ltd. Kamloops BC Canada 5: Forest Research Consultant Vancouver BC Canada

Publication date: October 1, 2004

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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 Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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