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TCEF Grid

A set of tenth-acre fixed area plots have been established on a 330-m grid across the Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest (TCEF) to monitor changes in vegetation and fuel dynamics over large spatial and temporal domains.

Most ecological studies fail to account for ecosystem response and its variability over large space and long time scales. Impacts of many disturbances and management actions, such as climate change, mountain pine beetle outbreaks, timber harvesting, and wildland fire, must be studied across large areas to ensure the scale of the disturbance match the scale of analysis, and they must be studied for over long time periods to ensure all ecosystem responses are detected. The Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest (TCEF) Grid project was designed to establish a set of gridded plots across the TCEF to monitor changes in vegetation and fuel conditions.

From 1996-98, we established 319 permanent plots arranged in a 330-m grid across the TCEF. Our initial collection efforts captured the biophysical setting, location, plant composition, and surface fuel data based on the Ecosystem Inventory and Analysis Guide, 1972.

In 2008, amidst an increase in mountain pine beetle activity in the area, we began resampling the plots. This effort was finalized in 2012 with funding from the US Forest Service, Forest Health Protection, Ecosystem Health Program. This 2008-12 effort included collection of surface fuel, vegetation, and tree data. Overstory tree (n=11,361) data included species, diameter at breast height, health status, canopy position, crown base height, and tree height. We examined every pine tree (n=9,500) for evidence of beetles and assigned a beetle class. For dead pine trees, we assigned both a beetle class and a snag class based on the state of decay/estimate of time since death. Other tree data was collected for saplings (n=17,182) and seedlings (n=871).

This gridded network of plots allows scientists interested in studying lodgepole pine forests a unique resource of vegetation and fuel information re-measured after a 15-year interval over a large spatial extent.

Image: Dots represent the gridded plot locations established in the TCEF Grid project.

Image: TCEF gridded plot locations
Modified: Feb 24, 2015

Select Publications & Products

Hood, S.M., Keane, R.E., Smith, H.Y., Egan, J., Holsinger, L. (In Prep). Challenges in Predicting Fire Behavior in Lodgepole Pine Forests Attacked by Mountain Pine Beetle. Forest Ecology and Management.