BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech fisheries and wildlife researchers monitor salamanders to determine the best way to harvest timber in America's forests.
Studies by faculty member Carola Haas, research associate Douglas Harpole, and graduate student Shannon Knapp are providing a better understanding of what happens to the forest during various harvesting and regeneration practices. They will present their research at the 83rd annual Ecological Society of America meeting at the Baltimore Convention Center Aug. 2-6.
The Monday, Aug. 3, 10:15 a.m. presentation by Harpole, as part of the Animal Population Ecology 1 symposium (8 a.m. to noon in room 307), will focus on the nighttime findings of the effects of the seven different silvicultural treatments on terrestrial salamander species richness and relative abundance. Why study the salamander? The greatest density and diversity of salamanders in North America occur in the southern Appalachians. They are an important link in the food chain between tiny insects in the leaf litter and larger vertebrates such as birds and mammals. Salamander habitat is especially sensitive to forest management practices that open the canopy.
The Virginia Tech researchers are studying the biodiversity in southern Appalachian forests to examine the effects of seven major regeneration alternatives (from the least to the most canopy disturbance): unmanipulated control, or no disturbance (for baseline comparison), understory herbicide application, group selection (removal of patches of trees every few years to create small stands of different ages and sizes), two shelterwoods (harvesting all but 20-60 percent of the tree canopy), two-age regeneration method (saving some valuable trees for later harvest), and clearcut regeneration.
"We hope the comparison of alternate management practices will allow
managers to assess the true costs and benefits of a particular silvicultural
practice," Haas says
Contact: Lynn M. Davis