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Stand Structure Development and Wildlife Relationships
Woodpecker
A key assumption of the forest management plan landscape management strategies is that they will enhance the development of complex stand structure and thus provide for native species habitats.  The stand structure project was implemented to address several questions related to this assumption. 
 
The first phase of the project was a problem analysis to determine what information is already available and what techniques we have to address these questions.  The analysis, completed in 2003, linked forest management plan stand structure types and structural elements to wildlife habitat characteristics and makes recommendations for options to study the effectiveness of the strategies in the field. 
 
One recommendation from this assessment is that a coarse filter monitoring approach would have a high applicability to answering questions about habitat effectiveness at a low relative cost.  Coarse filter monitoring is defined as monitoring the amount, distribution, or characteristics of habitat components, stands or landscapes, rather than directly measuring response of any wildlife species directly.  Coarse filter monitoring would be appropriate to use for species that are strongly associated with specific habitat attributes that we are managing for and that can be measured.  A draft assessment of which species can be monitored using a coarse filter approach was completed in 2004, and will provide the basis from which to make predictions about which species we can expect to be associated with the habitats developed through active management.
 
The second phase of the project is the development of a field study to address issues raised in these assessments. The objective of the study is to examine how stand structure conditions are changing as a result of management prescriptions and to determine whether post-harvest stand structure conditions are developing as anticipated.
 
Current stand structure types describe the condition of a stand at a particular time but does not describe the process of stand development between structure types or within a structure type.  It also does not identify indicator variables capable of describing whether a stand is on a particular pathway toward a defined desired future condition.  A more detailed examination of stand structure conditions, attributes, and development over time will allow a better description of stand processes and indicators.
 
Six analytical questions will be addressed in this phase of the study:
  1. Have post operation stand conditions developed as anticipated since harvest, within the first 5 to 10 years and continuously beyond this period?
  2. What parameters can be used as indicators to describe whether the stand is developing toward a defined desired future condition?
  3. Are pre-determined indicators effective in describing whether the stand is developing toward a defined desired future condition?
  4. What structural attributes are beginning to develop during this timeframe?
  5. What variables influence the development of stand structure attributes and how quickly do they develop?
  6. Are the models used to define our stand structure types valid?
 
Currently 76 sites have been selected for this study from the Northwest Oregon Districts.  Data collection is planned to begin in the fall of 2006.  A report including results to date will be completed for the 10-year forest management plan review in 2011.  The study will also continue as a long-term study for decades afterward in order to better describe the process of stand structure development.
 
The third phase of this project proposes to monitor the guild of diurnal songbirds across the plan area, sampling all stand structure types.  By sampling point counts over time, trends in species relative abundance can be measured.  The initial analysis would focus on Partners in Flight focal species that utilize different forest conditions that approximate our structure types.  The outcome of this approach would be to inform the Oregon Department of Forestry about whether we are managing for these habitat attributes that are closely associated with some species of birds.  As additional information about species and habitat relationships becomes available over time, the data will be available to evaluate other species in addition to the focal species.
 
The objectives of this aspect of the stand structure project will be to: 1) determine if stand structures are providing habitat for focal bird species of interest at both the stand and landscape scale; 2) determine if management for these structure types is effective in providing habitat for focal species of interest; and, 3) determine if management for these structure types is effective in providing habitat for other bird species.

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