Forest dynamics include the physical and biological processes that shape a forest ecosystem. Climate change, human activity and forest management all have significant impacts on forest dynamics. Our research includes broader topics on forest health and dynamics, including long term monitoring of old-growth forests, disturbance regime interactions, and the impacts of climate change. Prior work by our lab has included studies on gap-phase dynamics, coarsewood habitat and decay rates. We use a combination of tree rings, forest demography and forest health surveys, both from field and remotely sensed data.
To investigate old-growth forest dynamics, survivorship and succession under climate change, Professor Daniels established a network of permanent plots in the Metro Vancouver watersheds. Established in 1992, and sampled every 5 years, these datasets continue to provide valuable insight on the health of coastal old-growth forests. Our lab also conducts research on yellow-cedar decline on the north coast of British Columbia and Haida Gwaii. Examining tree rings from yellow-cedars up to 1000 yrs old we investigate the link between forest health and climate, tracking climate change impacts over the 20th century for this ecologically and culturally significant species.
Over the years, members of the TRL have collaborated with Professor Allan Carroll in the Forest Insect Disturbance Ecology Lab to investigate the effects of insect disturbance on wildfire regimes, stand dynamics, and forest health. Past work has included studies on the drivers of Western Hemlock looper (Lambdina fiscellaria lugubrosa) outbreaks in coastal forests, and the interactions between disturbances like Western Spruce Budworm (Choristoneura freemani) and Douglas-fir beetle (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae) on wildfire regimes and mule deer winter range habitat. Currently, we are focusing on the potential for insects like Douglas-fir beetles and woodborers to outbreak and kill trees after widespread wildfires in dry interior forests.