Restoration of native forest understory community in conifer forests of the western Cascade Range, USA.

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Rolf F. Gersonde, Bridget McNassar

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Forest understory herbs make an important contribution to the biodiversity and ecosystem processes of conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Understory herbs are important to nutrient cycling of conifer forests and make up a large part of the diet of wildlife species in these forests. Many understory herb species are assumed to persist in the seed bank and emerge following a disturbance or forest harvesting. Widespread clear-cut harvesting and broadcast burning during the past century may have diminished seed banks and reduce the biodiversity of understory herbs in second growth forests. Seedling establishment may also be challenging for understory species that generally rely upon clonal development more than seed production and dispersal. We describe a restoration project of understory herb communities in second-growth forests that involved seed collection, propagation, and planting, and monitoring. The project involved five understory herb species that are commonly found in old-growth forests in the Cascade Range of Washington State. Seeds were collected from local populations, propagated in a nearby native plant nursery, and out planted as small container plants. We tracked the survival and growth of the out planted seedlings. Most plants established well under shaded conditions but species and site conditions were important. Ongoing work includes long-term data collection, increasing out-planting locations, and adding more understory herb species.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program