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Plant Species Diversity in Young Conifer Plantations in Northern and Central California

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In this age of ecosystem management, plant species have value as an integral component of an ecosystem, as possible sustenance for animals, and even as a provider of medicines or food for humans. Plant species in plantations are no exception. But what species are present, how long are they present, and does their number increase or decrease? Are some species found in most plantations? Such knowledge could enhance the management of vegetation in plantations as well. In 21 study areas (plantations) in northern and central California with at least 10 years of data, we found 237 species in six categories (conifers, hardwoods, shrubs, forbs, graminoids, ferns). The average number of species in each plantation was 23 at the beginning of the studies and 28 after 10 years. The range of species was 13 to 61, with high variability and no trend of species richness to site productivity or age of vegetation. Three species and 10 genera were common to a majority of plantations. The vegetation manager now has some knowledge about species composition in young plantations in northern and central California and how it changes during the first 10 years after site preparation and release.

Keywords: Conifer seedlings; ecology; plant species richness; plantation release; vegetation management

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Redding, CA 96002.

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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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 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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