Many land managers in the Pacific Northwest have the goal of increasing late-successional forest structures. Despite the documented importance of Douglas-fir tree bark structure in forested ecosystems, little is known about factors influencing bark development and how foresters can manage development. This study investigated the relative importance of tree size, growth, environmental factors, and thinning on Douglas-fir bark furrow characteristics in the Oregon Coast Range. Bark furrow depth, area, and bark roughness were measured for Douglas-fir trees in young heavily thinned and unthinned sites and compared to older reference sites. We tested models for relationships between bark furrow response and thinning, tree diameter, diameter growth, and environmental factors. Separately, we compared bark responses measured on trees used by bark-foraging birds with trees with no observed usage. Tree diameter and diameter growth were the most important variables in predicting bark characteristics in young trees. Measured environmental variables were not strongly related to bark characteristics. Bark furrow characteristics in old trees were influenced by tree diameter and surrounding tree densities. Young trees used by bark foragers did not have different bark characteristics than unused trees. Efforts to enhance Douglas-fir bark characteristics should emphasize retention of larger diameter trees' growth enhancement.
Additional publication details
Management, morphological, and environmental factors influencing Douglas-fir bark furrows in the Oregon Coast Range