The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that there are no differences in understory production, by species, due to stocking levels of Pinus ponderosa (ponderosa pine). Understory production was estimated, by species, on 3 replicates each of 8 growing stock levels, ranging from clearcuts to unthinned stands, in both sapling- and pole-sized pine stands (48 plots) over 3 nonconsecutive years. All stands were approximately 70 yr old when thinning treatments were applied. Production of many herbaceous species, especially Agropyron spp. (wheatgrasses) and Carex spp. (sedges), declined as growing stock levels (measured in terms of basal area) of ponderosa pine increased. While trends in total production were similar, there were specific differences between sapling and pole stands. Sedges and Oryzopsis asperfolia (roughleaf ricegrass) produced more in sapling stands, whereas Danthonia intermedia (timber oatgrass) was more abundant in pole stands. Shrub production, dominated by Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry), was relatively consistent across all stocking levels except unthinned. Although the total number of species declined as pine basal area increased, a few species, such as Linnaea borealis (twinflower) and Shepherdia canadensis (buffaloberry), were found only under relatively dense pine canopies. While floristic species richness was greater at lower stocking levels of ponderosa pine, the total number of species would be greater if all stocking levels were present.
Uresk, Daniel W. and Severson, Kieth E.
"Response of understory species to changes in ponderosa pine stocking levels in the Black Hills,"
Great Basin Naturalist: Vol. 58
, Article 2.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/gbn/vol58/iss4/2