Episode 25: Early Seral Forests


From the Oregon State University's extension service, you are listening to In the Woods with the Forestry and Natural Resources Program. This podcast aims to show the voices of researchers, land managers, and members of the public interested in telling the story of how woodlands provide more than just trees. They provide interconnectedness that is essential to your daily life. Stick around to discover a new topic related to forests on each episode.

Welcome back to another episode of In the Woods. I'm your host Lauren Grand, associate professor of practice and extension agent in Oregon State University's college of forestry.

Today, we'll be talking about early seral forests with OSU college of forestry graduate student, Graham Frank. Welcome to the podcast, Graham. Thanks, yeah, happy to be here. So, before we dive into this really interesting topic. How about you tell us a little bit more about yourself and how you got interested in forest science?

Yeah, so I grew up in Oregon originally, um, just outside of Portland. And I think like a lot of people growing up in the area did a lot of hiking and became like pretty enamored with the forests around here. I think particularly through, um, through running in a high school for cross country in track, did a lot of trail running.

And through that process, I always kind of wanted to learn, learn more about those forests. And I always really enjoyed kind of the biology, chemistry sort of classes in high school. And so going into college, I knew I wanted to do some sort of biology, but I wasn't really sure what, um, and then as I got into it and started taking ecology classes, it's like, "Oh yeah, this is definitely the place for me."

Um, I went to college in Colorado and so the forests out there are certainly beautiful, but they're a little bit different than the ones out here. Uh, needless to say. And we didn't there wasn't really a forestry program per se, at Colorado College. And so going into graduate school, I knew I wanted to, to hone in on that forest ecology side of, of the ecological sciences a little bit more specifically.

And so I, I found a, a graduate program at Purdue University in Indiana, a bit of an unlikely place for, uh, forest ecology, I thought. Um, but actually it was a really great program. I learned a ton there and that kind of opened up the door for me to come back to Oregon and, and start this PhD program at Oregon State.

Yeah, thanks for sharing your story. I feel like a lot of us have, you know, a similar story. We wanna go into something in botany or environmental related, and then you sort of stumble upon forestry. And that was something that happened to me. I went to school for environmental science and then, you know, took a couple of forestry classes and was like, oh, that's what it is. There's my niche.

So, yeah, that's great. Um, to hear more.

So, um, as we dive in to talk more about what early seral forests are and some management activities and, um, wildlife connections to them. Let's start with a little bit of terminology. Okay, because we're probably gonna use a few words that a lot of people haven't maybe heard before.

So can you define for us, or give us a description of what you'll mean when you say seral? Yeah, so I guess the somewhat long answer here is that when we talk about a forest sere, just spelled S E R E. We're talking about this whole sequence of forest development, sort of from, you know, immediately after some severe stand replacing forest disturbance. All the way up until it's sort of an old growth forest where any disturbances are sort of small and just sort of perpetuating that same forest composition.

And so the sere is that whole block of change over time. And so seral is kind of like a part of that sere. Uh, yeah, hopefully that answers your question there.

Okay, that makes sense. And so when we talk about early seral we're just talking about one of the first stages in that sere.

Yeah, so there, I think, depending on where you look, people define it a little differently, which is how a lot of ecology is, is a little frustrating. Of course. Um, I typically, well, I think a good touchpoint to go back to is usually anything that Jerry Franklin writes. And in his, his most recent book on forest management, he used this term early seral pre-forest. And he talks about it being this stage immediately after a stand replacing disturbance before the canopy closes again.

And this stage is not dominated by trees, that being kind of the most important feature of it. Okay, right. Okay, so that makes sense. So it depends who, you know, who you're talking to, but, um, there could be this stage of vegetation that occurs right after the disturbance that doesn't yet dominated by trees.

And then there's another stage that starts to be dominated by trees that some might refer to as early seral.

Yeah, right. I think that's, I think fair to say. It's a good summary.

Okay, and then, um, what about what we'll be talking about today? What types of forests will you be referring to when we talk about early seral?

Yeah, so I'll be talking about those, um, those pre canopy closure, early seral forests. I think maybe an important distinction to make would be that when some people talk about early seral, um, they're talking about anything where the the dominant tree species are those first trees to colonize. So I think a lot of people are probably familiar with Douglas fir being one of the first tree species to colonize after disturbance like fire or clear cutting. It, you know, does really well in those open kind of highlight conditions.

Um, and so by some people's definition, you could have an early seral forest for quite a while because Douglas fir is still dominating that, that system. Um, but I think what we'll talk about today is sort of the structural pre-forest early seral condition, as well as that more like compositional early seral, which is a lot of those species that thrive in those highlight environments.

Okay, great. That's a good distinction. And, um, I'm not sure if we'll talk about this word very much, but just in case, um, I think succession might come up. Um, what does that mean? Yeah, so succession is the process by which vegetation changes along the sere. Or really just the process by which vegetation kind of changes without any major disturbances.

So, if you think of the sere being kind of like the highway. And the seral stages being the mile post, perhaps along the, that highway, succession's kind of the bus driving you along is how think about it. I like that. That's a good analogy.

Okay, great. So we've got some of that outta the way. Are there any other terms you think you might use that would be important to define?

Um, I can't think of any right now, but if I, if I say anything, uh, feel free to interrupt me and I'll try to give you a quick definition. Okay, sounds good.

Okay, so let's get into the meat a little bit here. Um, what are some of the key features of early seral forests? Yeah, so I think I maybe already, already alluded to one of these, but one of the key features is that trees are not necessarily the dominant plant life form.

You certainly can have a lot of trees in this stage, but you know, maybe they're not, uh, the canopy hasn't closed yet. They don't yet have sort of interlocking crowns. And so there's a lot of light reaching the forest floor. Um, more commonly it'll be sort of co-dominated, a lot of forbs, a lot of shrubs and perhaps a lot of regenerating trees also mixed in there.

So, that's a key feature. I think beyond that, it's gonna depend a little bit on what the actual disturbance event was that that led into that early seral forest. And then also, uh, sort of what was there before that disturbance event. But I think generally light being super abundant is a really important feature, right.

That, um, especially in the, the sort of structural development phase that we often think of as being immediately after early seral, that really low light, high competition phase, that's, that's a big contrast between, um, early seral forest and other, other forest structural stages. Um, after most natural disturbance events, so, uh, you know, if logging is not involved here.

deadwood is usually a really abundant feature, whether it's standing snags after fire or beetle kill or down logs after perhaps, uh, a big blowdown event or an avalanche or something like that. There's a lot of, uh, a big pulse of deadwood that goes into that system during that early seral phase.

Um, I guess one other thing that I'll talk about is that the rate of change is often pretty rapid in early seral forests as compared to later on in the development process. So for one, I just talked about deadwood that deadwood is, is decaying pretty quickly. If you've got standing snags, those are kind of often fracturing and falling.

Um, if you have down wood that's decaying over time and the plant community also is gonna be changing really quickly. Some of the very first colonizers that maybe weren't on the site originally are gonna be these sort of weedy species, you know, with their seeds blown in on the wind. And those might not actually last very long.

They might be pretty quickly out competed by more, more hardy species like shrubs and woody trees and things like that and perennial forbs. And then you can pretty quickly get into more of a shrub and tree dominated system. And that rate of change, which can take place, you know, within the span of a few years is a lot faster than the vegetation is usually changing, uh, later on in forest development.

Okay, so it sounds like there needs to be, you have to be a pretty special type of plant to be able to grow at the beginning of these forests. One that can... Yeah. Be competitive. Yeah, competition can be really high. I think, um, on one hand that opening up of the canopy opens up so much growing space for plant species, right.

But, um, really important I think is just being able to take advantage of that. So there's a whole suite of plant species that are really well adapted to the sort of live fast, die, young life history strategy where they maybe aren't very long lived, but their, their seeds can travel really far and they can grow really fast and they produce a lot of seeds.

And so they're able to take advantage of those open growing spaces really well when they do come up.

Yeah, it's all about competitive advantage in the forest world. Right. Sounds good.

Okay, what, so, um, those are some great things to think about when we're talking about features of seral forests. Um, I think some of the things that a lot of people are interested in also are, you know, what sort of ecosystem benefits these different stages of forest provide?

So what are some of those benefits or ecosystem benefits that early seral forests provide that maybe you can't find in these other stages of forest?

Yeah, so I think a lot of these tie back into some of those key features that I just mentioned. But, um, I think the first one of these is oftentimes this, this pulse of deadwood that you get from especially natural disturbance events, but that if you're creating early seral silviculturally, or, or through harvesting. You can make sure that you include also, and that's this, you know, this big deadwood component can be really important habitat for a lot of different wildlife in particular.

Um, it can also be an important sort of source of complexity for the, uh, the plant communities in these forests. So, for example, some things I've noticed even just in the field during the course of my field work over the last few years is that sometimes when we're doing these plant surveys, you'll think you've found all of the different species in a little plot.

And then I always try to remind myself like, oh, look under, look at the bottom side of the log, because in these really kind of hotter dryer, really open sites, the underside of the log, that's a little bit more shaded, maybe holds a little bit more moisture. That's always gonna have a few extra species under there.

Maybe it even, you know, catches a few seeds that are being blown in on the wind or something like that. So... That's totally a new concept of a nurse log that I haven't thought of before, usually you think of, you know, the young trees growing out of the top, but the bottom that's a good, that's a good tip.

Exactly. Um, you know, I think so downwood is obviously important for a lot of wildlife as well. Things like salamanders, um, all kinds of beetles. Um, those snags, as I think a lot of people know can be really important foraging habitat for, uh, woodpeckers, for example. They can be important nesting habitat, uh, for woodpeckers and then also a lot of secondary cavity nesters that might then come in and use those, those cavities once they've been vacated. Things like the Western Bluebird, for example.

Um, so that deadwood being a really important, I guess, sort of ecosystem feature, um, is pretty key. Let's see other other features. So going back to that, that really high light availability that we get in early seral forests, and not only the plants that it supports, but the plants that do exist there tend to be more likely to flower.

And then also more likely to produce fruit. And those can be important features for pollinators in terms of the flowers. So I think Jim Rivers' lab here at OSU has been looking at this sequence of, of forest in the coast range, you know, from clear cut up to canopy closure and a little beyond even, and seeing this really strong trend of sort of the, the forest age versus pollinator diversity. And probably a lot of that is tied to how much flower production there is in these more open stands. As far as fruit goes, uh, sort of tied to flowers here, but plants need light to be able to produce flowers and produce fruit.

And so when it comes to shrubs that are producing soft mass, for example, or berries essentially. We, you see a lot more production from things like black berries or Huckle berries, depending on kind of where you are and what exists there in these early seral stands than you would if those same plants were kind of shaded in the under story.

Um, down in Southwest Oregon, where I've been working, we see a lot of tan oak coming back after fire and where there's less herbiciding and some of the clear cuts as well. And those can be really abundant sources of acorns. Um, which are of course important food resources for all kinds of animals. But one of the most conspicuous are these acorn woodpeckers, which are just super loud and kind of gregarious... mm-hmm... um, and you can see where they've been just storing their acorns from these tan oak in the bark of the burnt Douglas fir trees, which is really cool.

Oh, interesting, yeah. Didn't know about that. Yeah. Um, let's see. Another important foraging resource, uh, in addition to fruit and flowers are these kind of forbs and broad leaf woody plants that are often really digestible. Um, so compared to most conifer species. And so they're really good for, you know, ungulate brows, like deer and elk.

They can be really important resources for a lot of insects and, in turn, support things that eat those insects. So, um, you know, like broadleaf trees and shrubs can often support a lot more insect traverse bird species, like warblers, for example, because they in turn support a lot more of those, um, particularly caterpillars.

And so that's an, that becomes an important food or resource for these birds. Great, so you brought up, um, wildlife quite a bit and, you know, talked about how these ecosystem benefits of early seral forests, um, that these provide that maybe you won't see in some other, um, stages of forest, does that sort of exclude some wildlife?

Or maybe mean that there's certain wildlife that depend wholly on these early seral forests? Because, you know, you're just talking about the warbler, having more food access from the insects that can feed on the forbs and things like that. Are there certain species that only live in these within early seral forests or depend on these forests?

Yeah, so I think some of your listeners might be familiar with, uh, with Matt Betts, uh, he's also in the college of forestry here. He's a professor who mostly studies, forest biodiversity and, um, and particularly birds. And one of the things that he said to me a while back that kind of stuck with me is that we haven't yet found like the early seral equivalent of the Northern spotted owl.

Like there, we haven't yet found this one species or a few species that seem to be completely associated with early seral forests. In the way that Northern spotted owls are associated with old growth forests. But that said there do seem to be some species that are, do really well in early seral forests.

Their populations seem to be tightly linked to the amount of early seral forests on a broader landscape level. And some species seem to be declining as the amount of early seral, either regionally or at a landscape level has kind of declined. So I know back in 2014, there was a review paper that tried.

Tried to pull out, you know, which, which species are really strongly associated with with early seral. Um, they found some bird species like the olive sided fly catcher, mountain quails, a couple of woodpecker species that don't occur in Western Oregon too much, but more like in the dryer parts of the state, like the black back woodpecker and the, uh, American three toed woodpecker, um, yellow breasted chats seem to do really well in the really shrubby kind of habitat that you often get in the early seral forests because of that insect prey that we talked about earlier.

Um, yeah, so a lot of species seem to be pretty strongly associated with the kind of habitat elements of early seral forest, but you can potentially find those same habitat elements elsewhere too. They just occur in, in a high abundance in early seral forests.

Yeah, I think we ran into that talking a little bit with Jim Rivers on our pollinator episode where, you know, he talked about that research you brought up earlier where, you know, pollinator species were... there's a large richness and abundance until the canopy closed and then it dropped off. Mm-hmm. Um, but you can also find pollinators along roadsides in any other place where you would find, um, heavy high light and flower species. So not totally dependent, but you know, would prefer that type of forest type.

Right, yeah, I think one thing that's kind of interesting is that, um, some, some scientists have drawn or have shown some really interesting similarities between what they, what you might call an open forest or a forest that's sort of maintained by frequent disturbances. Like I think some people are probably familiar with the idea that, you know, an Oak forest in the Willamette Valley is sort of at its healthiest when it's, it's pretty open, there's not a lot of Douglas fir encroaching.

And, and these like open canopy forests that are sort of maintained by frequent fire can have a lot of similar characteristics to early seral forests that are, you know, probably more of this, uh, will eventually develop into a closed canopy forest, but immediately following a stand replacing disturbance in, in sort of an open forest, you can still get these important plant species and animal species that, uh, like these more open habitats .

That feels a little bit reassuring that there's other options out there. And there's other management strategies if you maybe don't have the ability to do, you know, um, create early seral that there's habitat able to be made from an open forest condition.

Yeah, I think a lot of that probably depends or probably depends on sort of what is the natural or the historic disturbance regime of, of a forest. So in, in our kind of classic Douglas fir, Western hemlock system, that covers a lot of Western Oregon, um, especially in the wetter parts of the state, the sort of classic disturbance regime is gonna be a little bit more on the side of those fairly rare, but stand replacing disturbances.

Whereas when you get into the kind of dryer forest types, whether that's, uh, you know, along the edges of the Willamette Valley or getting down into the dryer parts of Southwest Oregon, or across the Cascade Crest, um, that's where you're kind of getting into these more frequent, but lower intensity disturbances that might be more likely to produce those open forest conditions.

Yeah, that's good. Thank you for clarifying. So, um, actually that's a good segue to the next thing I wanted to sort of ask you, which was that, you know, I've been to a couple conferences with scientists that have studied early, early seral forests and, you know, have heard some comments about, you know, the fact that they might be declining on the landscape.

Um, what are some options that forest managers can do to create early seral forests or extend the length of that early seral forest stage, um, on their property, um, or on a property that they're managing? Um, if they're interested in supporting some of those plant and wildlife species that we spoke about earlier.

Yeah, I guess, um, just to clarify a little bit, who do you have in mind when you say forest managers? So maybe small woodland owners or even anybody else who might listen to the podcast, like a forestry consultant or somebody who manages private land or someone that helps give advice to maybe a small private forest landowner.

Yeah, so I think this can be in some ways a tricky question, just because that really broad, diverse array of different forest managers are gonna have really different goals and constraints. As you're I'm sure well aware, uh, more so than me. All the, those are different . Yeah, totally. Um, and I think in a lot of ways, anytime someone is, is doing a fairly intensive harvest of one sort or another, they're creating early seral forests.

I think the key thing to consider is maybe not as much how to create early seral forests as, as like when you are doing it, or if you decide to do it. What are the key features that you wanna make sure that you include? And I think what some of those key things are, are gonna be those features that we talked about earlier that are so important for supporting biodiversity in these early seral forest systems.

So, deadwood being really important, whether it's, whether it's on the ground or left of standing snags, depending on what sort of species you're trying to support. Um, those broadleaf shrubs and even some broadleaf trees can be really critical. Uh, we talked about how, how palatable, especially that deciduous broadleaf vegetation can be.

And, in turn, the species that browse on it or feed on it, uh, that it can support. And then also in turn a lot of those same species of plants are gonna be producing. Producing fruit and flowers that are really important for, um, a number of different wildlife species as well. So I think those are kind of the two big things are, you know, broadleaf species, whether it's shrubs or, or trees as well as deadwood.

Uh, a lot of folks might refer to those as just like biological legacies, kind of generally like the things that are carried through from the, the system before it was disturbed. Um, and I think one of the tricky parts with managing is going to be herbicide use and probably tree planting. Uh, herbicide use, I understand is really important for making sure that this, the forest that you're getting to regenerate after a harvest is, you know, free to grow both to meet timber objectives and to meet regulatory requirements.

At the same time, it, it can kind of reduce those, those broadleaf plant species that can be so crucial for supporting biodiversity, especially in the short term. Um, it can also potentially because it's negatively impacting a lot of those negative, sorry, those native species that are already there, it can result in a lot more exotic plant species kind of coming in and taking up that growing space. Especially in the short term.

So I'm not here to tell anyone what to do, but those are kind of the things the trade offs to consider in terms of herbicide use I think. As far as planting goes, a lot of folks talk about how densely planting trees can end the early seral period a little bit earlier than if you were to either plant less densely, maybe plant in a more sort of, sort of irregular fashion than, or, or even not plant at all.

So once you get the, those conifers growing up, closing their canopy, you're gonna start losing a lot of the species, the plant species that really thrive in those open kind of highlight conditions.

And again, I understand that not planting would be counter to the objectives that most people have, but maybe thinking about how can you increase the complexity of that early seral forest that you have, whether it's maybe planting a more irregular pattern or planting a mix with species, that sort of thing.

And if there is, is there is anyone out there that is interested in not planting. There are opportunities with working with the Oregon Department of Forestry to come up with a plan for natural regeneration, which could, um, help reach that goal that could extend that timeframe a little bit.

Yeah, and I think, I think one of the, perhaps upsides to planting that I don't know, it, it probably does get talked about a fair amount, but I, I don't see it all the time in the, the suggestions in the literature to not plant, to extend it early seral. But there's, there's this concept that popped up in the literature fairly recently, where, um, the authors were talking about biological inertia.

Sort of where in theory, a disturbance event could be this opportunity for a system to adapt to future climate as, as we're getting hotter and dryer. But because natural regeneration relies on the trees that are already nearby or already exist in that, in that area, it can result in, you know, maybe missing that chance to, to change the tree species composition towards ones that are a little bit more adapted to, to what climate might be like in, you know, 40, 50, 80 years.

And, and then I'll pretty quickly get outta my depth on that. So I'll stop talking, but.

Well, so just a good point to bring up in terms of, um, those trade offs that, you know, you make with every decision and, um, thinking about, you know, your personal objectives when you're managing land and, you know, what values you hold and how to make decisions based on reaching those objectives. And climate change is becoming a more popular objective. Yeah.

Okay, I think we talked about a lot of, some of the great features and, um, different benefits of early seral forests. Um, are there any other aspects of early seral forests that you'd like to share with us, or something we should know?

Yeah, I think so earlier you alluded to this idea that early seral is sort of declining either regionally or on certain landscapes. And that, that might motivate people to, to think about creating early seral. And I think that's like a pretty tricky question. This like is early seral declining in large part because, you know, we've only had really good satellite imagery for maybe the last 40 years.

And so, um, and I think that has influenced our ability to kind of, or our, our frame of reference for how far we can look back for one thing. There are other techniques for reconstructing forest ages, like, like tree coring and things like that, that we can also use. Um, aerial imagery has also been pretty useful for that.

So people have used old photographs to look at landscape composition change. And there's actually even, I think someone in, in my department, who's being, who's looking using old landscape paintings, uh, to look at landscape composition change over time, which is pretty cool. So satellite imagery is maybe not the only way, but I do think that, you know, we have a, we don't have a super long memory for some things, right.

So when we look at bird declines over the last 40 years and say like, oh, well, these birds are declining because of there's there an associated decline in early seral. That may well be true, um, it might also be that at that time, there was a lot more, there was a lot of early seral on the landscape because there was a lot of harvesting going on, especially on federal land where maybe they weren't herbiciding as much.

There was a lot of that broad leaf dominated early seral. So I think it's just important to think about sort of what our frame of reference is. I know some of the first folks in, in the US at least to sort of raise the alarm on early seral declines were out in sort of New England, Northeast, uh, part of the country.

And there, there was this big, uh, abandonment of a lot of old fields in New England. And as a result, a lot of those went through the successional process where they're converting back to forest for a long time. There were a lot of these really young, kind of early seral forests that supported a lot of associated species that we've talked about.

Um, and then since those forests have matured, a lot of those species have started to decline. And so they've kind of like based the alarm on that, but it's hard to know exactly what the, what the appropriate reference point is. Like if we're trying to restore, what exactly are we trying to restore to? Is always a hard question.

So I guess just before we encourage forest managers to be trying to create a lot of early seral, I guess I would just encourage folks to think, think critically about that and, and what that means. And I think by and large, we're still, we're still short, a lot of old forest on our landscapes. Um, and it's a lot easier to create early seral than it is to create old forest.

So I just wanna make that point, I guess.

Yeah, that's an important, um, thing to think about in terms of the context of the landscape and making sure that, um, that all, you know, that, you know, the different stages fit in and that we're seeing a proper mix of the different stages to support all the various communities.

So, thanks for bringing that up. Yeah. I guess one other other piece I'll say about that, and then I'll, I'll stop talking about it. But, um, I think when we think about how much early seral there is on a landscape and how it compares to some historical reference condition, how we classify early seral is really important in that too.

If we only classify it as the sort of broadleaf dominated side of things, which, you know, I've talked about how important some of those broad leaf trees are or broad leaf shrubs. So that may be an important way to do it. Um, then it looks like there are declines, at least over the last 40 years in a lot of the, the sort of parts of the Pacific Northwest, maybe not including so much the areas that have burned a lot recently, like in Southwest Oregon, but a lot of places that have seen less disturbance recently. That's where we're seeing a decline in sort of broad leaf dominated early seral.

But if we include any really young forest or any forest in that sort of pre canopy closure condition, including sort of the more industrial forest plantations. That's when we see perhaps less decline in early seral. So, uh, it's important to think about what we consider early seral from that standpoint, when we're deciding whether or not it's, it's declining.

And part of the reason I say this is because I know what your next question is. And so I'll let you ask it.

Sure, so, really glad that you can share all these, all this information about early seral. But one of the main reasons why we asked you to come on and talk to us was because you're currently doing some research on some early seral forests.

And, um, we're hoping that once you finish your PhD, that you'll come back and share with us a lot of the results of your research, but for now, why don't you give us a little bit of a background of what you're, what, what you're researching and, and looking at, um, within earlys forests here in Oregon.

Yeah, so my PhD research is getting close to wrapping up.

I won't say it's getting close to the end just yet, but, um, we just finished our final little bit of data collection. Um, so I've been working for the last four years on this project that is comparing biodiversity in early seral forests down in Southwest, Oregon. And particularly, we're trying to compare these young forest plantations on private, industrial land to their kind of closest natural counterpart, which we consider to be high severity fire.

And there's been a lot of that down in the Klamath part of the state, Klamath eco region down there in the last 20 years. And so we've created this nice chrono sequence or like a space for time substitution, where we can sample on some fires that burned say in 2002, with the biscuit fire, and some fires that burned as recently as 2018.

And by sampling those, we can kind of get this idea for how these forest developed through time, uh, in that first 20 years and what species they support in the diversity of those species. And then we compare those to forest plantations of the same ages. And we're looking at birds. So we've gone out in the spring during the breeding season and taken point counts where you go out and you just look and listen for 10 minutes and record everything you see and hear.

And you do that in multiple places within the stand and, and several times to get an idea for, you know, how well can you actually detect these birds? We've been sampling ground beetles by digging in pitfall traps. So these are like essentially these like pint size deli containers that you just dig in kind of like a golf cup, like on the, on the putting green.

You dig it in, you fill it with some liquid and you leave it for a few weeks, come back, collect all the beetles out of there, identify them to species. Um, we've been sampling pollinators. So I, I guess you talked to Jim rivers already, so you might have an idea of how this is done, but the way we're doing it is putting out these kind of fluorescent traps for a couple days at a time, collect all the bees that go into there, kind of similar to how we're sampling beetles, but you have to attract bees a little bit differently.

And then we're also looking at all the plant species that occur. So basically just setting up a circular plot, you identify every plant within that and estimate it's it's cover or it's presented percent abundance in that area. Do that a whole bunch of times throughout the stand, just to make sure you're capturing all the variation there.

And then we also take, you know, four structure measurements and measure all the dead wood, make sure we have pretty good ideas of, of what the actual habit habitat for these species looks like. So I'm getting to the point where I have all the data in hand, but need to, need to put it through some analysis and think about what it all means.

So that'll be a bit of a process, but I'd be happy to come back on in a year or so and tell you what it means.

Well, it sounds like you've spent a lot of time out in the woods. Um, I'm jealous because I wish I was spending more time in the woods. Um... Well it's more out in the shrubs, but yeah. Right. Fair enough.

It's outside. So that's always nice. Um, well, yeah, I'm excited to see what you come up with and, um, good luck with all that analysis. And we can't wait to hear more about what those results are in maybe a year. Yeah, thanks.

So, um, well, thanks again so much for joining us today, Graham, it was, um, a pleasure talking to you that we had a really good conversation.

And I'm looking forward to having you again soon. Great.

So as you were listening today, if you have any other questions come up or you want us to cover a topic that you wanna learn more about, let us know, visit our website @inthewoodspodcast.org, but don't leave just yet. We've got our lightning round coming up where I get to ask Graham a few personal questions.

Okay, thanks for sticking around with us as usual. We're gonna ask you a few questions that we ask all our guests. And so the first one is what is your favorite tree?

This is probably like the hardest question on your whole list, I think. Um, so I think I'm gonna, I'm gonna split into Western and Eastern. And because I've spent a bit of time out in the Midwest working as well, and then I'm gonna do two for my Western ones.

Uh, so, so I don't actually have to pick a favorite, but I think in, in Oregon... You're not alone. Yeah, I think in Oregon, my two favorite trees are probably the Sugar pine, which is maybe an obvious one. It's got those amazing super long cones. It's just a beautiful tree, very majestic, and then kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum I love Pacific madrone.

That smooth orange bark. It's it's a bit more scraggly it can kind of like handle a lot of really harsh conditions. And mostly, I just think they're both beautiful trees, but for pretty different reasons. And as far as Eastern trees go, I think it's pretty hard to beat the Black walnut. A lot of people out in Indiana grow it in these really small little plantations for the lumber value because it produces this just beautiful wood.

But I also really like it out in the woods. Um, it's got this beautiful crown of compound leaves and it also has this kind of cool allelopathic effect where it can actually like inhibit the growth of other plants through soil chemistry effects, which is just pretty interesting. So, yeah, those are my three, I guess the, the black walnut, sugar pine and pacific madrone.

Those are good choices. I particularly like the sugar pine because it's my favorite tree, so, yeah. Nice. Um, good choice.

Alright, our next question is, uh, what's the most interesting thing you bring with you into the field, whether it's in your cruiser vest or field kit or pocket?

Yeah, um, honestly, most of the tools that we use are pretty basic.

It's a lot of like measuring tapes and, you know, a compass and things like that. Um, and you know, a lot of things where like, like I mentioned, for the birds, it's just listening and looking and writing things down. But maybe the most, the one that I have the most fun with is the laser range finder. You can use it for so many different things, whether it's measuring the height of a tree or the angle of a slope, or, um, you know, occasionally if you didn't bring your binoculars and you see a cool bird out there, it gives you a little bit of magnification to, to try to spot spot the bird.

So, they're, yeah, they're pretty versatile and pretty impressive little instruments, I think.

Yeah, that's a good one. You know, honestly, I think that's the first time it's come up on the podcast. I don't know for sure. But I'm surprised now that you bring it up.

Yeah, a lot of people use some pretty, pretty complex tools out in the woods and, and honestly, we, we don't from my project. So maybe that's why.

Well, I'm glad you said it because, uh, the tip with giving you a little magnification to see birds is I didn't think about that. So yeah, maybe some other people will benefit from that.

Okay, great. Um, so, and then our last question is, uh, are there any resources out there that you'd recommend for our listeners if they're interested in, um, diving a little bit deeper into early seral forests?

Yeah, um, so I think there are a couple, the sort of lighter version, I guess, or maybe more digestible is the Oregon Forest Resources Institute has, um, they have a number of publications about wildlife habitat in managed forests and they do one about early seral songbirds that I think does a nice job of aggregating and summarizing a lot of the studies that have been done on that topic in particular, um, with a bit of a focus for the most part on the coast range.

Um, but I think that one is a really good starting point, offers a lot of management recommendations in, in the end of it as well. And then the other, uh, resource I try to make sure that these are all like publicly available, but the other resource I might recommend is that Mark Swanson wrote this nice synthesis report for the forest service back in 2012, that I think is pretty easy to look up.

Uh, so the title of it is Early Seral Forests in the Pacific Northwest, a literature view and synthesis of current science. And I think if you just Google that and like forest service, it will probably pop up. Um, that one is a little bit longer, a little bit more dense, but has a lot of really good information all in one place. Talks about a lot of the different studies that have been done on a little bit of a broader, uh, geographical context than the, the OFRI publication.

So that might be sort of like a next step for people who are, are interested.

Okay, great. Those are really good recommendations and we'll be sure to find those and link them to our website so that people don't have to search around too much.

Um, yeah, there you go.

Okay, well, thank you so much again, Graham for joining us today. Um, that concludes our episode of In the Woods. Thank you so much to everyone who listened and I hope you join us again in a couple weeks to explore another topic in Oregon's amazing forests. Until then what's in your woods?

Thank you so much for listening. Show notes with links mentioned on each episode are available on our website inthewoodspodcast.com. We would love to hear from you, visit the tell us what you think tab on our website to leave us a comment, suggest just a guest or topic, or ask a question that can be featured in a future episode. And, also, give us your feedback by filling out our survey.

In the Woods was created by Lauren Grand, Jacob Putney, Carrie Berger, Jason O'Brien and Stephen Fitzgerald, who are all members of the Oregon State University Forestry and Natural Resources Extension team. Episodes are edited and produced by Kellan Soriano. Music for In the Woods was composed by Jeffrey Hino and graphic design was created by Christina Friehauf.

We hope you enjoyed the episode and we can't wait to talk to you again next month, until then what's in your woods?

In this episode, Lauren Grand and Graham Frank discuss early seral forest's importance and key features.

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