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Studying Forest Stand Dynamics through a Dendroecological Approach in Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Authors: Ichchha Thapa*, Indiana State University, Margot Kaye, Penn State University, Maegen Rochner, University of Louisville, Erika Blomdahl, Utah State University, Denise Alving, Pennsylvania State University, Danielle Ardan, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Lissa Pelletier, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, James Speer, Indiana State University, Blake Bantle, Indiana State University, Gabe Cahalan, The Nature Conservancy, Luly Kaye, State College Area High School, Ariana Lapine, Brigham Young University, Amanda Lindsay, USDA Forest Service, Lillian McDaniel, University of Central Arkansas, Lori Stokes, USDA Forest Service, Kevin Willson, University of New Mexico, Brian Woodward, Colorado State University, Nicole Zampieri, Florida State University, Katharina Zito , University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Topics: Biogeography, Mountain Environments, Paleoenvironmental Change
Keywords: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, Forest Stand Dynamics, Dendroecology, Disturbances, Forest Management
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Global forest decline has been observed on every continent. This is affecting the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and we have cored 17 sites along an elevational gradient to examine temperature stress, insect mortality, and seedling establishment over the past 150 years. Given the ecological connections of Yellowstone National Park with the surrounding national forest landscapes, this study examines the forest stand dynamics over longer historical periods in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem using dendroecological approach to determine patterns of forest growth, stand structure, stand development, stand-level biomass dynamics in response to varied disturbances ranging from changing climate, insect outbreaks, fire, and soil conditions. Insights on all these variables will help inform the direction that forests is heading so that we are prepared for forest management interventions. We will collect tree cores and soil samples using an N-tree design to collect 10 trees above 10cm dbh per plot. Cores and cross-sections will be prepared using standard dendrochronological processes and techniques involving mounting, sanding, cross dating, ring-width measurements followed by analytical methods for data standardization. We have found that whitebark pine is establishing further upslope, but also downslope on the transect. Some lodgepole pine has moved upslope into the whitebark pine zone and subalpine fir has moved upslope into the lodgepole pine zone. The mature trees are responding to temperature stress by switching from a minimum temperature response to a drought response. Finally, many of the whitebark pine trees were killed by a mountain pine beetle outbreak around 2010, leaving gaps in the canopy.

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