Date of this Version
Environ Sci Pollut Res (2015)
We examined 4-year growth of 15-year-old damaged and undamaged Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menzesii) after integrating temporary population reductions of mountain beaver (Aplodontia rufa) with thinning in a pre-commercial hand-planted plantation in western Washington. Five treatment combinations were considered: (1) trapping mountain beavers in an unthinned area, (2) trapping before thinning to 65 trees/ha (160 trees/ac), (3) no trapping and thinning to 65 trees/ha, (4) no trapping and thinning to 146 trees/ha (360 trees/ac), and (5) no trapping and no thinning. Removal of ≥90 % of mountain beavers temporarily reduced mountain beaver activity whether the stand was unthinned or thinned. Diameter growth at breast height (dbh) was greater for undamaged trees than for damaged trees in thinned areas. Tree height growth was greatest in trapped areas whether thinned or not. No differences were detected in 4-year survival between trees damaged aboveground and those without aboveground damage, which may be related to undetected root damage to trees without aboveground damage. Basal diameter growth and dbh growth were greatest for areas thinned to 65 trees/ha. Seventyeight percent of stomachs from mountain beaver trapped in winter contained Douglas fir root or stem materials. Overall, short-term removal of mountain beavers integrated with precommercial thinning promoted growth of crop trees.