Dead wood pools are strongly influenced by natural disturbance events, stand development processes, and forest management activities. However, the relative importance of these influences can vary over time. In this study, we evaluate the role of these factors on dead wood biomass pools across several forest management alternatives after 60 years of treatment on the Penobscot Experimental Forest in central Maine, USA. After accounting for variation in site quality, we found significant differences in observed downed coarse woody material (CWM; ≥7.6 cm small-end diameter) and standing dead wood biomass among selection, shelterwood, and commercial clear-cut treatments. Overall, total dead wood biomass was positively correlated with live tree biomass and was negatively correlated with the average wood density of nonharvest mortality. We also developed an index of cumulative harvest severity, which can be used to evaluate forest attributes when multiple harvests have occurred within the same stand over time. Findings of this study highlight the dynamic roles of forest management, stand development, and site quality in influencing dead wood biomass pools at the stand level and underscore the potential for various outcomes from the same forest management treatment applied at different times in contrasting stands.
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- Harvest severity index
- Spruce budworm
- Tree mortality
- Woody debris