4 Forest Structure and Composition

When a forester sees a forest she often will look at the tree species mix, the tree size, tree density, and other clues about how the stand might be managed to achieve wood products or other goals. When a wildlife biologist sees a forest, she sees evidence of deer browse, pellet groups on the forest floor, tracks in the mud, or nests in trees. To effectively manage habitat in a forest, the forester and the biologist must assess the sizes, numbers, and arrangement of a set of habitat elements, the building blocks for habitat within a stand or forest. Habitat elements are those pieces of the forest that in certain numbers, sizes, and arrangements meet the food or cover resources for a species. If these are highly variable within and among stands, then the needs for many species can be met. If they are very uniform, then the needs of only a few species can be met. The challenge to the forester and biologist is to walk into a stand and see the same habitat elements. In so doing, the biologist can explain why more or fewer of any set of them are needed to meet a species goal. Similarly, the forester can explain how silviculture might be used to achieve that goal.

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Forest Structure and Composition from Wildlife Habitat Management

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Wildlife Habitat Management by Brenda C. McComb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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