This project will use vegetation indicators of biodiversity to define response curves for measuring ecological resilience in three forest ecosystems in central BC. The vegetation indicators to be evaluated are: 1) the rate of regrowth; 2) the rate of recovery of species richness; and 3) the rate of recovery of original species composition. The research team hypothesizes that ecological resilience increases with site productivity and decreases with the length of intervals between wildfires.
For this project, the intern will be building a probabilistic model to predict how an individual emerald ash borer searches for host trees. The emerald ash borer is an exotic beetle which most likely arrived in North America in wood packing material carried in cargo ships. The beetle larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. The results of the research will be used in a larger risk model being formulated by the Knowledge Synthesis Group at the Canadian Forest Service.
Historical fire suppression and subsequent increases in fuel loading have led to more frequent and damaging forest fires across North America. This has prompted much research into how changing disturbance regimes affect forests and how to manage fires appropriately and in a more natural way. Parks Canada is interested in how disturbance regimes have shifted, how these shifts affect ecosystem function and what this means for management.
The BC Ministry of Forests and Range has recently undertaken a Future Forest Ecosystem Initiative (FFEI) whose purpose is to adapt the BC forest and range legislation and policy to a changing climate and to ensure BC’s forest and rangeland ecosystems remain resilient to stress. This research project helps to provide a scientific underpinning for the FFEI by developing mathematical models that predict how ecological resilience varies across environmental gradients and in response to cumulative environmental stress.
Growth and yield predictions are the basis of all forest management activities. The intern will conduct advanced research with the intention of improving growth and yield predictions by combining traditional models with a process-based stand development model. Typically, process-based models are more complicated and require special data as input and are difficult to use. Traditional growth and yield models are simple to use but often rely on extensive field measurement over long-periods of time.
The goal of this research project is to study the impact of average spacing between trees in terms of the growth and the quality of the trees. This practice, called pre-commercial thinning, was performed at four different spacings of 2.1, 2.3, 2.5, and 2.8m, and an unthinned plot was left as a control. An initial phase of analysis examined separately the effects on the growth and on the quality of the trees. A second phase will focus on the best trees and will examine the residual density which offers the best diameter growth and tree quality.
Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries Inc. is a leading producer of quality kraft pulp. Working with the company, the intern will develop a field-based conceptualization of snowmelt run-off source area dynamics with particular attention given to process-controls, spatial hydraulic connectivity, the importance of geomorphology and the influence of forest cover removal.
The intern will conduct a detailed cross-sectional study of ergonomic issues impacting operators of typical tree-harvesting machines used in Atlantic Canada. Operators from forest products companies will be recruited for this study. Data will be collected from structured interviews, field testing and simulated forest machine tasks.
The intern will collect data on tree mortality in the company's woodlands and develop equations to predict mortality rates from tree growth or forest age and composition. Mortality rates for white spruce have been particularly difficult to obtain due to overall low levels and sporadic occurrence of tree death. This project provides an interesting alternative broad survey approach to mortality compared to the present permanent sample plot (tag and re-measure) program. It will also aid the company with modelling the yield of mixed-wood forests.
The current major outbreak of mountain pine beetle (MPB) in the central interior of BC has prompted research into planning of a future forest that is more resistant to this insect. In the summer of 2005, a lodgepole pine seed orchard was infested by MPB. The orchard contains many clones and the clones are packed in regular rows in a randomized fashion.