Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Changes in forest biomass and overstory-understory species similarities in the context of changing land ownerships
by Pandit, Karun, Ph.D., State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 2016, 152; 10130752
Abstract (Summary)

There has been an unusual shift in timberland ownerships in the United States over the past few decades, in which mostly Forest Product Companies have divested properties to institutional owners, like Timber Investment Management Organizations and Real Estate Investment Trusts. Northeast region of the country has been influenced by this trend. Studies have suggested changes in harvesting, silviculture, and conservation efforts under new ownerships may alter forest structure and resiliency. However, there is little documentation on the spatial pattern of such ownership change and its effect on forest dynamics. This dissertation tries to address some of these knowledge gaps by applying a variety of spatial and statistical analyses to Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data from 2003 to 2012. In Chapter 2, I assessed spatial pattern of change in timberland ownerships and linked these incidences with socio-ecological variables. Largest observed shift was from industrial to institutional ownership, a net increase of only 1% in institutional timberlands. However, there was a significant clustering pattern, and clusters were significantly related to forest type, distance from urban center and distance from road. In Chapter 3, I explored changes in aboveground biomass (?AGB) among different ownerships, harvesting, and forest types, and other selected factors. Overall, a positive ?AGB (671 lb/ac/yr) was observed, with Non Industrial Private Forest (NIPF) timberlands having higher growth than industrial and institutional timberlands. Among forests, Elm-Ash-Cottonwood had the best growth, and among harvesting regimes, plots harvested before first measurement had highest growth. Ownership, harvest, disturbance, silvicultural treatment, forest type, stand age, site index, and precipitation were significantly related to ΔAGB. In Chapter 4, I compared three indices used to characterize similarity between overstory-understory tree species composition and assessed potential future change in forest composition. Ownership, forest types, precipitation, stand age, site index, stand origin, slope, elevation, proximity to road and urban centers all contributed to explaining variation in change in similarity indices. Among ownership categories, industrial and institutional ownerships had greater dissimilarity over time, in contrast to other ownerships. The final chapter discusses some potential implications of these results to northern forest structure, resiliency and sustainable production.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bevilacqua, Eddie
Commitee: Mountrakis, Georgios E., Newman, David H., Stehman, Stephen V.
School: State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Department: Forest Resources Management
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 78/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Forestry
Keywords: Aboveground biomass, Reit, Ripley’s K function, Similarity index, TIMOs, Understory
Publication Number: 10130752
ISBN: 978-1-339-88578-0
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