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Forests 2015, 6(9), 3060-3074; doi:10.3390/f6093060

Impacts of Mastication: Soil Seed Bank Responses to a Forest Thinning Treatment in Three Colorado (USA) Conifer Forest Types

1
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
2
University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Robert Wagner and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 9 July 2015 / Revised: 8 August 2015 / Accepted: 25 August 2015 / Published: 31 August 2015
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Abstract

Mastication is a forest fuel thinning treatment that involves chipping or shredding small trees and shrubs and depositing the material across the forest floor. By decreasing forest density mastication has been shown to lessen crown fire hazard, yet other impacts have only recently started to be studied. Our study evaluates how mastication treatments alter the density and composition of soil seed banks in three Colorado conifer forest types. The three forest types were (1) lodgepole pine, (2) ponderosa pine and (3) pinyon pine-juniper. Results showed that masticated sites contained higher seed bank densities than untreated sites: a pattern primarily driven by treatment effects in ponderosa pine forests. The seed bank was dominated by forbs regardless of forest type or treatment. This pattern of forb dominance was not observed in the aboveground vegetation cover as it demonstrated more even proportions of the functional groups. Graminoids showed a higher seed density in treated sites than untreated and, similarly, the identified non-native species only occurred in the treated ponderosa pine sites suggesting a potential belowground invasion for this forest type. These results suggest that presence of masticated material might not be creating a physical barrier hindering the transfer of seeds as predicted. View Full-Text
Keywords: conifer; vegetation; seed banks; ponderosa; Lodgepole; pinyon-juniper conifer; vegetation; seed banks; ponderosa; Lodgepole; pinyon-juniper
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Faist, A.M.; Stone, H.; Tripp, E.A. Impacts of Mastication: Soil Seed Bank Responses to a Forest Thinning Treatment in Three Colorado (USA) Conifer Forest Types. Forests 2015, 6, 3060-3074.

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