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The mountain hemlock zone of British Columbia. Klinka, Karel 2008

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The Mountain Hemlock Zone of British Columbia Summary This report describes in some detail both non-forested and forested ecosystems of the Mountain Hemlock (MH) zone of British Columbia. It is one of 14 technical reports intended to provide a comprehensive account of biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification (BEC) as well as some management implications for each zone in the province. These 14 zonal reports should fill the gap between the general description given in "Ecosystems of British Columbia" and the information on site identification and interpretation given in regional field guides and other research reports. We present the vegetation, zonal, and site classification developed from the data gathered over the past 20 years by the Ecological Program Staff of the BC Forest Service throughout the whole range of the MH zone. In addition to classification, we included measures of plant diversity and similarity for delineated units and information from recent published and unpublished studies on forest dynamics, soil nutrient availability, regeneration, productivity, and dendrochronology carried out in the MH zone. Although this report contains new data and information, we consider our understanding of coastal subalpine ecosystems to be Scientia  Silvica Extension Series, Number 28, 2001 incomplete, as there are yet many questions for which there are only speculative answers. We combined, analyzed, synthesized, and interpreted all available data on non-forested and forested coastal subalpine ecosystems that were obtained using the standard methods of sampling and analysis. The resulting classification thus integrates several local classifications. Following a brief description of methodology, we give an account of the environment of the MH zone. The pivotal sections present zonal, vegetation, and site classification. Each of the three classifications features a synopsis, diagnostic tables and description of delineated units. The following sections deal with vegetation-environment relationships and silvicultural implications. We anticipate that this and subsequent reports (i) will provide an adequate and up-to-date account on ecosystem classification according to the BEC system and (ii) will be used as tools for further systematic ecosystem studies, ecosystem mapping, and implementation of ecosystem-specific management. 1 INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................................................................................ 1 2 REGIONAL DESCRIPTION 2.1 LOCATION AND DISTRIBUTION .................................................................................................................................. 3 2.2 CLIMATE ........................................................................................................................................................................ 4 2.3 PHYSIOGRAPHY AND SURFICIAL MATERIALS ........................................................................................................ 5 2.4 SOILS AND HUMUS FORMS ........................................................................................................................................ 6 2.5 VEGETATION ................................................................................................................................................................ 6 2.6 WILDLIFE ....................................................................................................................................................................... 8 2.7 LAND USE ...................................................................................................................................................................... 9 3 ECOSYSTEM CLASSIFICATION 3.1 CONCEPTS AND METHODS ..................................................................................................................................... 11 Concepts of Ecosystem Classification .................................................................................................................... 11 Ecosystem Sampling ............................................................................................................................................... 12 Vegetation Classification ......................................................................................................................................... 12 Similarity and Spectral Analysis .............................................................................................................................. 14 Zonal (Climatic) Classification ................................................................................................................................. 15 Site Classification .................................................................................................................................................... 15 3.2 ZONAL CLASSIFICATION ......................................................................................................................................... 17 Coastal Biogeoclimatic Zone ................................................................................................................................... 17 Subzones and Variants of the Mountain Hemlock Zone ........................................................................................ 20 Zonation and Climatic Localisms ............................................................................................................................ 29 3.3 VEGETATION CLASSIFICATION .............................................................................................................................. 33 Non-Forested Ecosystems ...................................................................................................................................... 33 Forested Ecosystems .............................................................................................................................................. 41 3.4 SITE CLASSIFICATION ............................................................................................................................................. 53 Parkland MH Subzones .......................................................................................................................................... 54 Forested MH Subzones .......................................................................................................................................... 59  Table of Contents Ordering Information This report is available in full colour or black-and-white printed versions or in electronic format on the Scientia Silvica  CD-ROM. This report will also be summarized on the BC Ministry of  Forests,  BEC Zones web site (www.for.gov.bc.ca/research/becweb/zoneinfo/zones). Ordering  information is available on www.forestry.ubc.ca/ klinka or from Karel Klinka (klinka@interchange.ubc.ca) Reference K. Klinka and C. Chourmouzis. 2000. The Mountain Hemlock Zone of British Columbia. Forest Sciences Department, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. Scientia Silvica  is published by the Forest Sciences Department, The University of British Columbia, ISSN 1209-952X Editor: Karel Klinka (klinka@interchange.ubc.ca) Production and design: Christine Chourmouzis (chourmou@interchange.ubc.ca) Financial support: Research Branch, BC Ministry of Forests For more information contact: Karel Klinka Copies available from:  www.forestry.ubc.ca/klinka, or K.Klinka, Forest Sciences Department, UBC, 3036-2424 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4 3.5 DESCRIPTION OF THE SITE UNITS ........................................................................................................................ 69 Site Units of the Parkland MH Subzones ................................................................................................................ 69 Rhizocarpon (A) site group ............................................................................................................................ 69 Phlox (B) site group ....................................................................................................................................... 71 HmYc – Rhacomitrium (C) site association ................................................................................................... 72 HmBa – Mountain-heather (D) site association ............................................................................................. 73 HmBl – Mountain-heather (E) site association .............................................................................................. 74 Hm – Mountain-heather (F) site association ................................................................................................. 75 Hm – Crowberry (G) site association ............................................................................................................. 76 Mountain-heather (H) site group .................................................................................................................... 77 Valerian (I) site group ..................................................................................................................................... 78 Sitka Alder (J) site group ............................................................................................................................... 79 Swamp Moss (K) site group ........................................................................................................................... 80 Showy Sedge (L) site group .......................................................................................................................... 81 Marsupella (M) site group .............................................................................................................................. 82 Several-flowered Sedge (N) site group ......................................................................................................... 83 Cotton-grass (O) site group ........................................................................................................................... 84 Alpine Sedge (P) site group ........................................................................................................................... 85 Site Units of the Forested Mountain Hemlock Subzones ....................................................................................... 86 HmYc – Rhacomitrium (C) site association ................................................................................................... 86 Hm – Mountain-heather (F) site association ................................................................................................. 86 HmBa – Mountain-heather (D) site association ............................................................................................. 86 HmBl – Mountain-heather (E) site association .............................................................................................. 86 Hm – Copperbush (1) site association .......................................................................................................... 87 HmBa – Blueberry (2) site association .......................................................................................................... 88 HmBa – Moist Blueberry (2) site association ................................................................................................ 89 Hm – Crowberry (G) site association ............................................................................................................. 90 HmSs – Blueberry (4) site association .......................................................................................................... 90 HmYc – Deer-cabbage (5) site association ................................................................................................... 92 Hm – Sphagnum (6) site association ............................................................................................................. 93 HmBa – Foamflower (7) site association ....................................................................................................... 94 HmBl – Valerian (8) site association .............................................................................................................. 95 HmSs – Reedgrass (9) site association ........................................................................................................ 96 HmYc – Twistedstalk (10) site association .................................................................................................... 97 HmBa – Lady fern (11) site association ......................................................................................................... 98 HmBl – Lady fern (12) site association .......................................................................................................... 99 HmYc – Marsh-marigold (13) site association ............................................................................................. 100 HmYc – Skunk cabbage (14) site association ............................................................................................. 101 4 VEGETATION-ENVIRONMENT RELATIONSHIPS 4.1 STAND STRUCTURE AND FOREST DYNAMICS ................................................................................................. 103 4.2 THE INFLUENCE OF SNOW ................................................................................................................................... 110 4.3 REGENERATION PATTERNS ................................................................................................................................ 114 4.4 FOREST PRODUCTIVITY ....................................................................................................................................... 117 4.5 HEIGHT GROWTH AND SITE INDEX MODELS FOR PACIFIC SILVER FIR ....................................................... 119 4.6 SOIL NUTRIENT REGIME ....................................................................................................................................... 126 4.7 FOREST PRODUCTIVITY - SITE RELATIONSHIPS .............................................................................................. 130 4.8 RESPONSES OF TREE-RINGS OF PACIFIC SILVER FIR TO CLIMATIC VARIATIONS .................................... 134 5 RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND SILVICULTURAL IMPLICATIONS 5.1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................................................................... 137 5.2 MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONAL BACKGROUND ......................................................................................... 138 5.3 THE DECISION TO HARVEST OR NOT TO HARVEST ........................................................................................ 140 5.4 THE IMPACT OF CUTTING ON TIMBER AND NON-TIMBER RESOURCES ...................................................... 143 5.5 STANDS PROPOSED TO BE EXCLUDED FROM HARVESTING ........................................................................ 144 5.6 TREE SPECIES OPTIONS ...................................................................................................................................... 153 5.7 REPRODUCTION CUTTING OPTIONS .................................................................................................................. 162 5.8 REGENERATION ON DISTURBED SITES ............................................................................................................. 167 5.9 NATURAL REGENERATION AFTER CLEARCUTTING: A CASE STUDY ............................................................ 174 5.10 SUMMARY OF MANAGEMENT ISSUES AND RESEARCH NEEDS .................................................................. 176 6 REFERENCES....................................................................................................................................................................... 179 

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