HISTORICAL DISTURBANCE AND RECENT MANAGEMENT FACTORS DRIVING QUERCUS GARRYANA VEGETATION COMMUNITIES IN THE PUGET SOUND LOWLANDS
Blazina, Ashley Jean
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Garry oak (Quercus garryana) ecosystems used to cover 111,000 hectares in the Puget Sound, yet currently occupy approximately 3% of this former land area. Today, most Garry oak systems are fragmented and remain outside of protected conservation areas, making them particularly prone to additional land development pressures. However, Garry oaks are a key cultural ecosystem and preferred habitat for multiple endangered and threatened species. Remaining oak ecosystems have gone through a variety of disturbances, making it difficult to determine what types of current management and restoration are effective. This research looks at the history (1853 – 1943) of disturbance and land use for three Garry oak ecosystems, examining how these patterns of human activity have impacted the current ecosystem structure and vegetation. Results show that density of oak trees on these ecosystems is tied to a number of different environmental variables. Past history of both the frequency and intensity of grazing and logging appear to be large driving factors, yet additional research will be required to confirm how much of an affect both of these activities had on the overall ecosystem dynamics of each site. Additional partnerships with a variety of researchers, local Native American tribes and individuals are recommended for future projects at these oak sites, as well as oak ecosystems throughout the Puget Sound region.
- Forestry