Coarse woody debris in managed central hardwood forests of Indiana, USA
We evaluated the volume of down deadwood (DDW) and the basal area of standing deadwood (SDW) from a chronosequence of 110 silvicultural openings and 34 mature stands (72-105 years old) across three Ecological Landtype Phases (ELTP; wet-mesic bottomlands, mesic slopes, and dry-mesic slopes) in southern Indiana, USA. The volume of DDW decreased with increasing opening age and was lower in clearcuts than in group-selection openings. Openings on mesic slopes and bottoms contained greater volumes of DDW than openings on dry-mesic slopes. Regardless of age and ELTP, openings contained low volumes of highly decayed DDW. The volume of small-diameter DDW decreased rapidly with increasing stand age across all three ELTPs. Mature stands contained low total volumes of DDW (maximum of 22.4 ± 5.1 m3 ha-1) and low volumes of both highly decayed and large-diameter DDW. Most of the dead trees in silvicultural openings were small diameter and did not contribute significantly to DDW volume. SDW basal area was very low in mature stands (maximum of 1.4 ± 0.5 m2 ha-1) , suggesting that little mortality has occurred. Our results suggest that even and uneven-aged silviculture in hardwood forests have differing impacts on the volume and distribution of coarse woody debris (CWD). In addition, the mature stands that dominate forests across much of the Central Hardwood Region of the eastern United States contain relatively little CWD compared to younger and old-growth stands.