Date of Award:

2004

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Forest, Range, and Wildlife Sciences

Advisor/Chair:

John C. Malechek

Abstract

The West has lost up to 60% of its historic aspen stands over the last century, probably as a result of the successional tendency of aspen to be replaced by coniferous species in the absence of periodic fires. One of several major impacts of this change is the loss of understory forage as conifer canopy cover increases. I measured understory biomass in aspen stands ranging from 0% to 81 % absolute conifer cover in the canopy Ill and found that understory production declines exponentially as conifers replace aspen. I also did an economic analysis to determine the value of the forage that is not being produced by aspen sites due to a presence of coniferous species within the tree canopy. Study results indicate significant losses in forage, marketable through the sale of livestock, and losses in revenue generated through grazing fees for the USDA Forest Service.

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