2. Coarse Woody Debris – Water / Moisture 

42. What makes a healthy tree or plant? The availability in the proper proportions of the right "STEW" - Space, Temperature, Elements and Water. And the energy of the sun will be used optimally making a tree into the most massive, longest-lived and efficient system on earth.  Everything is recycled.

43. Water - Too much or too little can cause serious problems.  The USFS claims drought has caused mortality leaving masses of symplastless trees. Actually lack of water during dry times is more accurate.  Too often cause and effect get mixed up.

44.  I have learned, that is all you see now.  What you do not see is the other flora and fauna, that have died as the result of the lack of coarse woody debris (CWD).  The CWD would have provided water during the past dry times, just for starters.
45.  Water is a limiting factor.  Consider what happens to a dog without water for two days locked on a porch.  Say we search for the presence of a dog at this dryer site 2 years later?  No dog.

46.  Now, do we conclude dogs cannot survive on porch or do we consider that some type of water reservoir for dryer times, that would enhance the area (system) thus making it suitable for the survival of dogs, are needed for species? 

47. With respect to fallen trees. Furrows in the bark on the upper side fill with leaf duff and provide sites for several years for seeds to germinate.  Where the bark is intact, seedlings generally die during summer drought.  If a seedlings roots find a crack or hole in the bark and grow into the decomposed layer between bark and wood, however, it may find enough moisture to survive the summer (Maser and Trappe, 1984 pg 25-par 3).

48.  Some of the conclusions, in the “Burn and Clearcut Project”, remind me of TREE PITHY POINT # 376 “The researcher took all the legs off a flea. He then shouted to the flea to jump. The flea just lay there. The report stated that fleas lose their ability to hear when you remove their legs. Don't laugh. I have seen research reports worse than that.” (Shigo, 1999 pg 60).

49.  Many phone conversations with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revealed that they did not and do not specifically recommend any CWD be killed (removed) as a treatment for the “Burn and Clearcut Project” with respect to wildlife or Threatened and Endangered Species.  In this project the USFS claims killing, removing, cutting down out, etc., the trees, is for the wildlife and or threatened and endangered species and leads people to believe they have recommendations from USFWS.
50.  In order to increase the health of the system the health of the system, which, as shown such an increase of “mortality”, due to drought or during dryer times.

51.  A provision should be provided, wherein the plants as well as the animals, moisture needs are maintained by the system itself. 

52.  As well known, there will be so-called droughts and or periods of dryer times in the future.

53.  A healthy system in place will help in handling this unfortunate occurrence.

54.  Something to keep in mind. Reports from some countries indicate an abundance of soluble nitrogen compounds in runoff water and even in ground water. This is a strong indication that the carbon-nitrogen ratio has been disrupted in the soil. It is well established from studies of the physiology of fungal parasitism that the degree of parasitism is often determined by the carbon-nitrogen ratio. It is probably similar for other organisms (Shigo, 1996).

55.  A snag may accumulate moisture – carry essential elements and have a higher essential element capital when it falls than does a tree with symplast (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg 19-par 2).    

56.  CWD plays are an important role in the functioning of ecosystems. Its functional role in stream ecosystems has been well established and many stream restoration projects are underway. Its role in terrestrial ecosystems is still not completely understood  (Edmonds and Marra,  1999).

57.  When thinking of, and dealing with, diversity in a forest, conventional vision focuses on structure and habitat. Diversity, however, has another dimension-one that is only now being perceived: function. The basic components of structural and functional diversity are inseparably interwoven in a forest. A broadened philosophical view of management - a forest versus a commodity - is necessary if certain structurally related functions, such as retention of water and cycling of essential elements in large, fallen trees, are to be options in managed forests of the future (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg49-par4).

58.  Note:  The “Burn and Clearcut Project”  is promoted as an area negatively effected by drought.  This would be a lack of water during dry times.  Removing more logs which wound become coarse woody debris and claiming it to be a treatment to improve drought tolerance of this system is absurd.  A tourniquet will stop a nosebleed!

59.  Symplastless trees, especially with soil contact act as a storehouse  for moisture providing moisture for plants and animals during dry times such as summer drought, as it may be called (Page-Dumroese, Harvey, Jurgensen and Graham, 1991).

60.  During the winter months, decayed logs, act like a sponge to absorb water and retains much of the water throughout the following growing season.  This water would be a survival feature during so called drought (Page-Dumroese, Harvey, Jurgensen and Graham, 1991).

61.  Logs with soil contact play key roles with the cation exchange capacity,  water -  holding capacity, bulk density, nutrient budgets, essential elements and erosion potential (Page-Dumroese, Harvey, Jurgensen and Graham, 1991).

62.  Coarse woody debris has been identified as playing several important roles in the functioning of the region's forests. In southwest Oregon, brown-cubical-rotted CWD acts as a perched water reservoir, the spongy decayed wood being able to hold over twice its own weight in water. This material thus can be a major source of moisture for fungi and roots well into the summer drought that characterizes the region (Amaranthus, Trappe and Bednar,    1994).   Animals as well, if you please.

63.  Numerous physical and chemical changes occur as fallen trees decay: (1) density decreases; (2) water content increases until decay classes III and IV are reached, at which time the water content stabilizes, mineral and nitrogen contents increase; (4) cellulose content decreases; (5) relative lignin content increases: (6) C:N ratio decreases, internal temperature fluctuations are buffered as the fallen tree comes in contact with the ground (Maser, Tarrant, Trappe and Franklin, 1988, pg44-par1).

64.  Large Stumps from old-growth trees are a finite resource, and their loss from the forest affects both soil shear strength and watershed hydrology (Maser, Tarrant, Trappe and Franklin, 1988, pg 45-fig.2.8).

65.  CWD affects temperature as well as moisture, which can have a benefit for certain beneficial fungi (Amaranthus, Trappe and Bednar, 1994). 

66.  Large, fallen trees in various stages of decay contribute much-needed diversity to terrestrial and aquatic habitats in western forests. When most biological activity in soil is limited by low moisture availability in summer, the fallen tree-soil
interface offers a relatively cool, moist habitat for animals and a substrate for microbial and root activity. Intensified utilization and management can deprive future forests of large, fallen trees. The impact of this loss on habitat diversity and on long-term forest productivity must be determined because management needs sound  information on which to base resource management decisions (Maser and Trappe, 1984, Abstract-par2).   

67.  The proportion of a tree in contact with the soil affects the water-holding capacity of the wood (Graham 1925). In our studies of fallen trees in old-growth Douglas-fir forests, the moisture retention through the summer drought was best in the side of trees in contact with the soil. The moisture-holding capacity of the wood affects in turn its internal processes and therefore the succession of plants and animals. In addition, the orientation of a fallen tree to aspect and compass direction and the amount and duration of sunlight it receives, drastically affect its internal processes and biotic community (Maser and Trappe, 1984 pg 4-par3). 
68.  A snag may accumulate moisture – carried essential elements and have a higher essential element capital when it falls than does a tree with symplast (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg 19-par 2).  

69.  Colonization of decomposing wood by animals helps microbes to enter interior surfaces of the wood and creates additional openings for entry of water and essential elements; and penetration of the wood by roots of trees, such as western hemlock, facilitates entry by mycorrhizal fungi (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg19-par4).    

70.  Internal succession is also influenced by temperature, moisture, and stage of decay. A class I fallen tree, for example, has many readily available essential elements that support opportunistic colonizers. As decay proceeds its moisture holding capacity increase but essential elements become less available because either they have been used or they remain locked in the more decay resistant compounds of the wood.  Ultimately, the rapidly growing opportunists are succeeded by organisms with more sophisticated enzyme systems, and decay continues (Maser and Trappe, 1984, pg37-par2).      

71.  A fallen tree oriented along the contour of a slope. The upslope side is filled with humus and inorganic material that allows invertebrates and small vertebrates to tunnel alongside. The downslope side provides protective cover for larger vertebrates. When under a closed canopy, such trees are also saturated with water and act as a reservoir during the dry part of the year (Maser, Tarrant, Trappe and Franklin, 1988, pg45-fig2.9).

72.  So called rotten wood is also critical as substrate for ectomycorrhizal formation. In one forest which contained a coniferous stand of trees (Eastern Hemlock and White Pine are conifers), over 95 percent of all active mycorrhizae were in organic matter of which 21 percent were in decayed wood.  In another study in the northern Rocky Mountains, decayed wood in soil was important.  In moist, mesic, and arid habitat types (Harvey et al. 1979); it was the most frequent substrate for active ectomycorrhizae on the dry site, probably because of high moisture levels in the wood. Mycorrhizal fungi can colonize logs presumably using them as sources of water, essential elements and nutrients (Franklin, Cromack, Kermit, et al. others,  1981). 

73.  Aubry et al. (1988) found that some species of salamander were most abundant around CWD. Dupuis (1993) concluded that salamander populations in logged areas were limited by available moist microhabitats, primarily because of a lack of large logs in intermediate and advanced stages of decay (Voller and Harrison, 1998).     

74.  Much is discussed on wetlands and water in this reference (Voller and Harrison, 1998).   

75.  In both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, symplastless wood functions as a reservoir of moisture, ameliorating drought conditions and providing a 'perched water table' (Triska and Cromack 1979) (Voller and Harrison, 1998). 

76.  Conclusion:  What purpose and need is there, that the capacity and ability, of CWD, to provide water / moisture for fauna and flora during dryer times go unobserved, such as the case in this “Burn and Clearcut Project”?  Coarse woody debris / ecoart nurse logs play a key role in providing the requirements of water/moisture for survival of species of animals as well as plants, be they listed as threatened and endangered or not.  This function is plays a key role during hot, drier times.   To fully comprehend the importance one must consider time.  This function must be thoroughly considered before making a decision to remove this function from the system or not.

Go Back

Dictionary MAIN PAGE
Text & Graphics Copyright © 2013 Keslick & Son Modern Arboriculture

Please report web site problems, comments and words of interest, not found.