Justin Britton - Evaluation of treatment success in quaking aspen: Implications for management
Aspen management in the Intermountain West has conventionally relied on its ability to vegetatively reproduce, and has long been used to guide silviculture (e.g., coppice systems). Aspen is prolific in its sprouting response to overstory removal, capable of producing thousands of shoots per hectare. The successful reproduction of aspen is of considerable management interest. Without intervention, current threats to the persistence of aspen communities may lead to the continued decline of aspen in the Intermountain West. Successful regeneration is defined as the timely recruitment of a new cohort of aspen stems such that they are no longer susceptible to herbivory or other detrimental factors associated with juvenility. In the broader context of aspen ecology, we can postulate three important drivers of successful aspen regeneration: (1) stand vigor, (2) disturbance history (e.g., management actions), and (3) climatic conditions. A multitude of interactions between these drivers likely ultimately determines the timing, quantity, and quality of aspen regeneration. We measured sites with known management histories on Cedar Mountain and southwestern Utah in order to quantify the success of regeneration based on a comparison of unique pre-treatment versus post-treatment stand conditions. By simultaneously exploring a multitude of factors that possibly affect aspen regeneration, this research: (1) sampled across multiple stand conditions (N=103), elucidating a diversity of regeneration drivers; (2) identified multiple management scenarios for successful aspen regeneration; and (3) incorporated state-of-the-art knowledge regarding aspen regeneration ecology into a management guide.