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Open AccessArticle

Whitebark Pine Recruitment in Sierra Nevada Driven by Range Position and Disturbance History

1
Remote Sensing Laboratory, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, 3237 Peacekeeper Way, Suite 201, McClellan, CA 95652, USA
2
Forest Health Protection, USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Region, South Sierra Shared Service Area, 19777 Greenley Road, Sonora, CA 95370, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2019, 10(5), 455; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10050455
Received: 15 April 2019 / Revised: 21 May 2019 / Accepted: 22 May 2019 / Published: 25 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecology and Restoration of Whitebark Pine)
Effective restoration of whitebark pine populations will require a solid understanding of factors affecting seedling recruitment success, which may vary by site and biogeographic region. We examined the relationship between whitebark pine seedling recruitment, disturbance history, and range position in three independent studies in the southern Sierra Nevada, California (CA), USA. In 66 plots broadly distributed across watersheds, we found that whitebark pine seedling density and proportion were greatest at upper elevations, and where canopy cover of whitebark pine was higher (density ranged 0–383 seedlings/ha; x ¯ = 4, σX = 1). Seedling density and proportion were also greater in plots that had recently experienced loss of canopy cover from insects, avalanche, windthrow, or other disturbance effects. In a second study conducted in popular recreational areas, including campgrounds and trailheads, the response of whitebark pine recruitment to disturbance was strongly dependent on the relative position of stands within the range, or proximity to other forest types. Both studies indicated that low to moderate levels of disturbance enhanced whitebark pine recruitment, especially at its range edge, a finding consistent with the early seral status of whitebark observed in previous studies conducted elsewhere in North America. In our third study, a case study at the June Mt. Ski Area, we demonstrate the potential for a downward shift in the whitebark-lodgepole pine ecotone as a result of insect-caused disturbance. View Full-Text
Keywords: whitebark pine; tree recruitment; population dynamics; disturbance; range distribution whitebark pine; tree recruitment; population dynamics; disturbance; range distribution
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MDPI and ACS Style

Slaton, M.R.; MacKenzie, M.; Kohler, T.; Ramirez, C.M. Whitebark Pine Recruitment in Sierra Nevada Driven by Range Position and Disturbance History. Forests 2019, 10, 455.

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