Source: UNIV OF IDAHO submitted to
IMPACTS OF FOREST BIOMASS REMOVAL ON SOIL QUALITY AND BIODIVERSITY
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
TERMINATED
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
0229553
Grant No.
2012-67009-19612
Project No.
IDAZ-COLE-AFRI00951
Proposal No.
2012-00951
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
A6125
Project Start Date
Aug 1, 2012
Project End Date
Jul 31, 2017
Grant Year
2012
Project Director
Coleman, M.
Recipient Organization
UNIV OF IDAHO
875 PERIMETER DRIVE
MOSCOW,ID 83844-9803
Performing Department
Forest Resources
Non Technical Summary
The nation's forest lands contain excess biomass that could be utilized for advanced biofuel production. Removing forest biomass from young, overstocked forest stands for production of biofuel decreases wildfire hazards, improves resistance to pests and disease, and accelerates development of large diameter trees. Using forest lands for biofuel creates products that will not compete with demand for food. However, biomass removal also takes away nutrients and organic matter from the soils that support future forest growth and provides nourishment to the forest food web of microbes, insects, snails and slugs that are in turn consumed by birds and mammals. Available science suggests that there is little impact of biomass removal on forest soil and future productivity from timber harvesting. Yet, there is little information on biomass removal from young, small-diameter forest stands and even less information on how removals from younger forests affect the diversity of wood decomposing fungi and ground dwelling insects and gastropods. It is especially important to understand the impacts of removals from small-diameter forests. A significant proportion of available forest biomass occurs in young overstocked stands. Thinning forest at this stage of development has significant positive impacts on forest growth and structure that affect forest health and vigor for decades. This study assesses the impacts of removing various amounts of excess biomass from small diameter forests on tree growth and vigor, soil quality, microbial activity, and the diversity of wood decay fungi, insects and gastropods. We will consider how amendments such as fertilization and charcoal (biochar) might mitigate responses to biomass removal. We expect to see little impact of removing biomass on soil properties and forest growth, but we expect that diversity of forest fungi, insects and gastropods will be sensitive to removal of biomass. Fungal and invertebrate communities should change in measurable ways, but it is not clear how this will affect their community diversity. Fertilizer and biochar amendments are expected to largely compensate or supersede any observed removal impacts especially for soil physical, chemical and biological properties. In combination, our research will provide important indicators of the impacts of biofuel production on forest ecosystem sustainability. It will establish initial guidelines on the amount of biomass retention required to maintain critical ecosystem functions in western forests, and it will demonstrate ways to compensate or enhance those features through use of soil amendments. The biomass retention requirements will guide forest biomass removal for biofuel production and assure that future generations receive similar goods and services that we have traditionally enjoyed from our abundant forest ecosystems.
Animal Health Component
(N/A)
Research Effort Categories
Basic
20%
Applied
80%
Developmental
(N/A)
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
1020110206120%
1230612107020%
1230699107020%
1234020110220%
1233199113020%
Goals / Objectives
The goal of our research project is to assess the impact of small-diameter woody biomass removal on sustained forest production. Woody biomass from thinning western conifer forests is viewed as a potential source of feedstock for biofuel using thermochemical or biochemical conversion processes. As the biofuel industry scales up, demand for woody biomass will increase. Knowing the impacts of biomass extraction is critical to reaching a balance between intensive forest management and maintaining forest productivity. Attaining that balance is necessary to provide future generations with all of the goods and services that we have traditionally enjoyed from our forests. Understanding the extent of biomass removal, as well as viable strategies to compensate for site impacts must be a basis for biofuel production from forest ecosystems. We will examine the effects of small tree removal on forest growth response, physiochemical soil properties, and soil biological diversity. These measures will provide crucial knowledge on the impacts of biomass removal on future forest production, and develop sensitive environmental indicators to assess the viability of woody biomass removal from forest ecosystems. Our overall objective is to assess the potential of thinning western forest stands to produce feedstocks for renewable biofuels, and to establish site-specific limits to the amount of biomass removed based on forest ecosystem responses. Our assessment will encompass soil physiochemical properties, soil microbial biomass, soil exoenzyme activity, invertebrate populations, fungal diversity, and monitoring tree growth in residual stands. We also will investigate if soil amendments (fertilizer, biochar) can compensate for potential soil productivity impacts caused by thinning and biomass removal operations. We have three specific objectives: 1) Determine the effects of biomass removal from thinning overstocked forest sites on soil properties and tree growth. 2) Assess the impact of biomass removal on fungal and ground-dwelling invertebrate diversity. 3) Evaluate the capacity of soil amendments to compensate for biomass removal impacts on soil properties, tree growth and biological diversity. This research will be used by the developing forest bioenergy industry and distributed through scientific outlets. Forest biomass removal is expected to intensify in western coniferous forests due to increased research investment in its utilization for biofuels. We are associated with that research and with forest industry poised to gain from developing biofuel markets. This research will help set sustainability standards by providing indicators of forest biomass removal impacts at stand and regional scales. We will report results at national scientific meetings and in peer-reviewed articles in the areas of soil quality, wood decomposition, fungal genetic diversity and invertebrate diversity. Manuscripts will be submitted prior to, or shortly after the grant funding period ends. Published results will define the level of biomass necessary to retain forest productivity, environmental quality and genetic diversity within a bioenergy production system.
Project Methods
To accomplish the project objectives, we will install monitoring plots in stand thinning units. Thinning units will include various levels of biomass retention, within which plots will receive fertilizer or biochar amendments. We will use retained live trees to monitor forest growth responses, and we will monitor the response of soil chemical and physical quality indicators, wood decomposition rates, soil respiration and microbial biomass, and the relative activity of soil extracellular enzymes. Possible cascading effects of biomass removal and amendment treatments on the ecosystem will be evaluated based on genetic diversity of wood-rotting fungi and ground-dwelling invertebrates. We will determine standard soil physical and chemical features like texture bulk density, water retention, field soil temperature and moisture, total C and N, pH, extractable NH4+ and NO3-, cation exchange capacity, and base saturation. We will determine effects on soil biological activity by monitoring wood stake decomposition, soil respiration, soil microbial biomass, and exoenzyme activity. Wood stakes are used as a index of OM decomposition and soil biological activity. Soil respiration will be collected by measuring the flux of CO2 from the soil surface. Soil microbial biomass of fungi and bacteria will be determined using substrate induced respiration with selective inhibition. We will determine activities of soil exoenzymes responsible for biomass degradation and nutrient mineralization using flourometric and spectrometric microplate techniques. Wood-inhabiting fungal communities will be assessed using above-ground surveys of wood-inhabiting fruiting bodies and DNA-based surveys of fungi that colonize wood stakes. For fruiting bodies not easily identified, we will use analysis of microscopic features or DNA sequencing. DNA of wood-inhabiting fungi in wood stakes will be extracted from drill-bit shavings. Fungal-specific ITS (internal transcribed spacer) primers will be used for the cloning and sequencing of DNA isolated from fruiting bodies and wood. Influence of management on invertebrate diversity will include examining species and composition of selected communities (ground beetles, ants, gastropods, springtails and mites). These taxa are sensitive indicators of forest environmental change. We will evaluate pre-treatment diversity and abundance and account for seasonal variation in post-treatment activity. Ground beetles and resident ant communities will be sampled using pitfall traps. Gastropod communities will be sampled using bait traps (beer-coated cardboard squares). Woody debris will also be examined for ant species and gastropods. Springtails and mites will be captured from soil placed into Berlese funnel traps. Community abundance, richness and diversity indices will be determined from community information for fungi and invertebrates. Fungal communities will be compared with invertebrate communities. Correlations will be used to determine associations of community composition with soil and forest mensuration measurements.

Progress 08/01/12 to 07/31/17

Outputs
Target Audience:Target audiences for this research are scientists, land managers, policy makers and public interests groups interested in the impacts of biomass removal from forested lands for the purpose of bioenergy production. The topics surounding forest biomass and woody bioenergy production are of intense interest to those managers trying to improve forest resistance to wildfire, insects & disease, drought and impacts of environmental change. Federal forest land is scrutinized by the public who value a multitude of services, some of whom are interested in economic recovery and development, while others are leary of increased harvesting activity. As scientists we strive to collect objective information that provide factual information to inform the debate at local and regional planning meetings, as well as detailed scientific discorse through literature and at national and international conferences Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?During the last reporting year two graduate students used of this study for the topic of their thesis. A master's student completed her degree while the PhD student is on track to complete her degree by December. These graduate students have developed invaluable professional skills that will aid their job search and benefit future employers. Five undergraduate students also assisted with the competition of this project through efforts in the lab and field. The skills and experience gained broaden their educational experience and add to their personal portfolios. Two summer temporary biological scientists assisted with field and lab work, adding to their professional skills and experiences. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Tree growth data have been described in a graduate student thesis and that student further prepared the thesis for a journal article which was accepted for publication in Global Change Biology-Bioenergy. A summary of the tree data has been included in the Intermountain Forestry Cooperative Newsletter which distributes to major land management organizations in the Inland Pacific Northwest. Soil enzyme activity data were presented at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting. Results of the 2015 fungal community analyses and early soil treatment and thinning responses were reported at the Society for Ecological Restoration - North-West Regional Conference in Portland, Oregon on the 7thof April 2016. To date, results of various aspects of the insect community richness and diversity analyses of soil treatment and thinning responses were reported at national (Entomological Society of America and Soil Science Society of America) regional (Society for Ecological Restoration) and outreach/extension (Intermountain Forest Tree Nutrition Cooperative, Idaho Extension: Current Topics in Forestry) meetings. Direct impacts of biochar on selected insect species have been submitted for publication in the refereed journals Northwest Science and The Pan-Pacific Entomologist. Results of the project have also been used as exercises in undergraduate (ENT 469: Introduction to Forest Insects) and graduate (ENT 569: Advanced Forest Entomology) classes at the University of Idaho. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Nothing Reported

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Forest biomass from thinning operations has great potential for use in advanced biofuel production. Thinning improves forest growth and structure, which lowers pest infestations and risks from wildfire. However, removing biomass as bioenergy feedstock may degrade habitat by decreasing microbes and insects and lower future forest growth by removing essential nutrients and organic matter. While clearcutting has little effect on soil quality and long-term growth, less is known about biomass removal from thinned stands, and even less is known about impacts on fungi and insects at the base of the food web. This study considered effects of biomass removal from young forests on tree growth, soil quality, and the diversity of wood decay fungi and invertebrates. We also considered how fertilizer and charcoal (biochar) amendments might mitigate effects of biomass removal. We confirmed that biomass removal had no effect on forest growth and soil quality after 3 years, and microbes and insects measurably responded. Fertilizer increased tree growth and biochar had no effect, yet field and lab results show biochar increases insect mortality. Our short-term results support continued development of a biofuel industry where we conclude biomass removal will not affect forest growth, but may alter insect diversity. Expansion of wood utilization for bioenergy would improve industrial profitability, aid forest restoration, and improve quality of life for rural communities whose livelihood depends on sustainable forest management. This project had three specific objectives: 1) Determine the effects of biomass removal from forest thinning on tree growth and soil properties. 2) Assess the impact of biomass removal on fungal and insect diversity. 3) Evaluate capacity of amendments to compensate for biomass removal impacts. Objective 1 Biomass treatments were implemented following operational thinning in two replicate stands at two distinct locations. Biomass was removed (0x), retained (1x), or doubled (2x) from plots and compared with control plots that were not thinned. We considered treatment effects on basal area and total stem volume growth and soil quality. Biomass removal had no effect on plot tree growth compared to normal biomass retention, while 2x biomass retention decreased growth after 3 years. Growth effects were not explained by soil moisture, temperature or nutrients. Pretreatment differences were found in soil bulk density, organic matter and N. By the end of the study pH had increased in the forest floor, but there were no other effects of time, thinning or biomass treatments. Installed wood stakes were removed every 6 mo to measure decomposition and soil biological activity. Although there were seasonal effects on wood stake respiration, there were no responses of stake respiration to biomass treatments. Wood stake decomposition is still being processed in the laboratory. Soil exoenzymes were used to measure P and N release seasonally for three years. There were significant distinctions between locations and among season for P-and N-releasing enzymes. However, enzyme activity responses were not detected for biomass treatments. Objective 2 Fungal diversity was studied using fruiting body surveys and wood-stake DNA. Fall fungal fruiting surveys for three consecutive years yielded >1,400 observations of >200 species. White rot producing fungi predominated followed in order by brown rot, pathogens, mycorrhizae, and those of unknown lifestyle. Sampling year and biomass treatments effects were found. In dry years there were 246-427 fungal observations, and 766 in the wettest year. The 2x biomass treatment consistently yielded a greater number fungal observations, while 1x yielded the least. Fungal DNA was extracted from wood stakes and is still being sequenced. We sampled the insect community with 5 types of traps. So far, 28 families of beetles have been identified in the study sites. Ant diversity dropped 1- to 3-genera one year following treatments. An average of two genera were lost from 0x and 2x biomass plots while less than 1.5 genera were lost from 1x and the unthinned control plots. Objective 3 Each of the biomass treatment blocks were split into four amendment treatments: N fertilizer (F), biochar (B), fertilizer+biochar (FB), and a control (C). As expected, F increased basal area and total volume growth, yet B had no effect on tree growth. Forest floor pH increased with B additions; however mineral soil pH was unchanged. The increased pH can be attributed to the liming effects of B as it has high pH and buffering capacity. Enzyme activities and N- and P-release did not show any differences among amendment treatments. Soil amendments explained a significant amount of variation in fungal and insect communities. The C treatment consistently had highest fungal observations, while F was nearly as high. The B and BF amended plots consistently yielded the fewest number of fungal observations, which may be due to increased pH. The F and FB amendments cause more than two insect genera to disappear from the plots post treatment, while C lost an average of 1.5 genera and B lost one. Lab studies were conducted in enclosed arenas to assess the direct impact of exposure to dry biochar on insects. All of the tested biochar particle sizes decreased the overall survival of thatch ants (70% in control; 40% in medium and coarse, 20% in fine particle size). Exposure to dry biochar resulted in a significant linear decline in thatch ant and bark beetle survival as biochar amendments increased. Only insects that actually came into direct contact with the biochar were affected (70% for no contact; 20% for thatch ants and 50% for beetles with direct contact) indicating volatiles were not causing mortality. There were no significant differences in the number of bark beetles that attacked or emerged from the biochar-treated versus non-treated ponderosa pine logs of standard size. An average of 285 nuptial chambers and 50 adults per log were found in controls, while 280 nuptial chambers and 53 adults were found per log in biochar treatments. Long-horned beetles and metallic wood-boring beetles emerged in similar numbers from biochar-treated versus control pine, yet wood wasps only emerged from biochar-treated pine. Key outcomes Initial findings after three years suggest removing small-diameter biomass for biofuel feedstocks is feasible in the Inland Northwest without negative impacts on tree growth, soil quality, decomposition and exoenzymes. Results also show that any negative tree-growth effects can be compensated with ferilization, but not biochar. Depending on the type of biochar applied as an amendment it is possible that soil pH may increase and fungal fruiting decrease. Forest insects appear to be negatively affected by biochar amendments especially when fine particles are applied dry. Fungi and insect diversity appear to be more sensitive indicators of impacts of woody biomass removal than are forest stand and soil measures.

Publications

  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. Maintaining and improving soil and site productivity during bioenergy harvest operations. IUFRO Forestry and Research Meeting. Beijing, China.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Draeger, K. 2016. Fungal Communities: Indicators of Change. Society for Ecological Restoration  North West Regional Conference. Portland, Oregon.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2014 Citation: Cooper, L., S. Cook & M. Coleman. 2014. Changes in forest insect community structure following pre-commercial thinning for biofuel production. Entomological Society of America, National Meeting. Portland. OR.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2014 Citation: Cooper, L., S. Cook, M. Coleman & D. Dumroese. 2014. Forestry and ant conservation. Intermountain Forest Tree Nutrition Cooperative Annual Meeting. Moscow, ID.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Cook, S., L. Cooper and V. Rodrigues de Andrade Neto. 2016. Biochar influences on insect assemblages in forest soils. Society for Ecological Restoration, Northwest Annual Meeting. Portland, OR.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Accepted Year Published: 2017 Citation: Cook, S.P. & V. Rodrigues de Andrade Neto. Laboratory evaluation of biochar on survival of Ips pini (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) and Formica obscuripes Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Accepted for Publication by Northwest Science.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Submitted Year Published: 2017 Citation: Cook, S.P. & V. Rodrigues de Andrade Neto. Insect utilization of biochar-treated Ponderosa pine bolts in a north Idaho mixed conifer forest. Submitted to The Pan-Pacific Entomologist.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2017 Citation: Sherman L, Page-Dumroese D, Coleman MD. 2017 Idaho Forest Growth Response to Post-Thinning Energy Biomass Removal and Complementary Soil Amendments. GCB Bioenergy: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/gcbb.12486
  • Type: Theses/Dissertations Status: Published Year Published: 2017 Citation: Sherman L. 2017. Impacts of post-thinning biomass removal and soil amendments on forest productivity in northern Idaho University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, 54.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2017 Citation: Coleman, M., A. Talhelm, and S. Shan. 2017. The relationship between release of organic nitrogen and carbon by exoenzymes in forest depends on the soil organic matter. Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Coleman, M., S. Cook, D. Page-Dumroese, D.l Lindner, M. Jurgensen4, R. Keefe, J. Tirocke, K. Draeger, J. Sarauer, L. Sherman, A. Talhelm. 2016 Impacts of Forest Biomass Removal on Soil Quality and Biodiversity. AFRI Sustainable Bioenergy Investigators meeting. New Orleans, LA.
  • Type: Other Status: Other Year Published: 2015 Citation: Page-Dumroese DS. 2015. How biomass removals alter above- and below-ground productivity. Webinar for the R1 Soil Scientists and staff.
  • Type: Other Status: Other Year Published: 2015 Citation: Page-Dumroese DS. 2015. Biochar use on forest, range, and mine land soils. Invited webinar on the Evaluation of the Economics and Environmental Benefits from Using Forest Residues.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Page-Dumroese DS, Jurgensen MF, Tirocke JM, Rogers J, Miller C. 2016. Decomposition under biochar-amended soils: Restoring soil function. European Society for Ecological Restoration, Freising, Germany.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Other Year Published: 2016 Citation: Page-Dumroese DS, Jurgensen MF, Tirocke JM, Rogers J, Miller C. 2016. Decomposition under biochar-amended soils. 3rd Annual Asian-Pacific Biochar Meeting. Chuncheon City, S. Korea.


Progress 08/01/15 to 07/31/16

Outputs
Target Audience:Target audiences for this research are scientists, land managers, policy makers and public interests groups interested in the impacts of biomass removal from forested lands for the purpose of bioenergy production. The topics surounding forest biomass and woody bioenergy production are of intense interest to those managers trying to improve forest resistance to wildfire, insects & disease, drought and impacts of environmental change. Federal forest land is scrutinized by the public who value a multitude of services, some of whom are interested in economic recovery and development, while others are leary of increased harvesting activity. As scientists we strive to collect objective information that provide factual information to inform the debate at local and regional planning meetings, as well as detailed scientific discorse through literature and at national and international conferences. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?This project has involved numerous graduate and undergraduate students. Two graduate students (a PhD and an MS) use this project as their primary thesis topic. Those students are planning on preparing at least three publishable manuscripts. Another PhD student uses plots from this project in combination with plots in other studies to determine the response of greenhouse gas efflux to biochar treatments, which will be a primary thesis chapter. Several other graduate students have also provided technical assistance to the project. All graduate students have become informed about forest biomass and woody bioenergy topics along with the technical training required to accomplish the research ranging from experimental design, ecological theory and measurements, laboratory analysis and data summary and statistical inference. Several undergraduate students have provided hourly labor. Undergraduates have helped with field treatment applications, field measurements and sample collection, laboratory analysis and assistance with associated greenhouse projects. Some of the undergraduates were foreign exchange students participating in the Brazilian Scientific Mobility Program. These students were exposed to field, lab, and data aspects of the project. At the same time, other faculty and students working with them learned about Brazilian forestry and culture. Because of this NIFA project, Stephen Cook has been working closely with the new curator of the William Barr Entomological Museum at the University of Idaho. This museum is the facility where voucher specimens from the work will be placed. Further, the ties with the museum have led to Dr. Cook's participation in a 30-museum project funded by the National Science Foundation for digitization of the museum's holdings on macro-Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) titled "Digitization TCN: Lepidoptera of North America network: Documenting radiation in the largest clade of herbivores." How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?During the current twelve-month reporting period project personnel have given numerous presentations that included data from the current project: Coleman, M., D. Page-Dumroese, S. Cook, D. Lindner, M. Jurgensen, R. Keefe, L. Cooper, B. Rell & Bhanu Bhattran. 2015. Tree growth, soil quality and biodiversity response to forest biomass removal in the Inland Northwest. Soil Science Society of America, National Meeting. Minneapolis, MN. Cook, S.P. 2015. Site and nutrient effects on conifer resistance to insect attack. Current Topics in Forest Management. Annual Extension Meeting. Coeur d'Alene, ID. Cook, S.P. 2015. Site and nutrient factors can influence conifer resistance to insect attack. Intermountain Forest Tree Nutrition Cooperative Annual Meeting. Moscow, ID. Cook, S., L. Cooper and V. Rodrigues de Andrade Neto. 2016. Biochar influences on insect assemblages in forest soils. Society for Ecological Restoration, Northwest Annual Meeting. Portland, OR. Draeger, K. 2016. "Fungal Communities: Indicators of Change." Society for Ecological Restoration - North West Regional Conference. Portland, Oregon. Page-Dumroese DS, Coleman M, Cook S, Jurgensen M, Lindner D, Tirocke J, Draeger K, Sarauer J, Sherman L. 2015. Impacts of forest biomass removal on soil quality and biodiversity. AFRI grant PI meeting. Denver CO Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. Using biochar for soil restoration. Region 4 Air-Soil-Aquatics Annual Meeting. Jerome, ID. Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. Using biochar for soil restoration. Region 3 Water-Soil-Wildlife-Timber Annual Meeting. Pinetop, AZ. Page-Dumroese DS, Jurgensen MF, Tirocke JM, Rogers J, Miller C. 2016. Decomposition under biochar-amended soils: Restoring soil function. European Society for Ecological Restoration, Freising, Germany. Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. Using forestry feedstocks to create biochar and improve soil productivity and carbon sequestration. Panel on Frontiers in Biochar at the Western States Wood Energy Team Forum 2016. Missoula, MT. Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. Maintaining and improving soil and site productivity during bioenergy harvest operations. IUFRO Forestry and Research Meeting. Beijing, China. Page-Dumroese DS, Jurgensen MF, Tirocke JM, Rogers J, Miller C. 2016. Changes in decomposition rates after forest thinning and application of soil amendments. 3rd Annual Asian-Pacific Biochar Meeting. Chuncheon City, S. Korea. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?The project will be wrapped up in the next twelve-month period. The following lists the accomplishments expected by each of the four topic areas. Forest inventory and soil biological activity Third year tree and stand measurements will be collected in autumn of 2016. This three-year inventory will provide two full growing seasons of post-treatment growth measurements to compare treatment responses. Fall assessment of soil biological activity will mark the third year with three seasonal assessments. Such a complete record collected at both the wet and try study locations will provide detailed assessment of the resilience of these soil processes to biomass removal and amendment treatments. Tree inventory data and soil biological activity will be described in two separate thesis chapters and formatted for journal submission. The thesis defense is expected in spring 2017. Invertebrate Sampling: We are completing the confirmation of insect identifications, statistical analyses and manuscript preparation. We anticipate submitting four manuscripts to refereed journals: Manuscript 1, tentative title "Laboratory evaluation of biochar on survival of Ips pini (Coleoptera: Curculionidae: Scolytinae) and Formica obscuripes Forel (Hymenoptera: Formicidae)" Manuscript 2, tentative title "Utilization and survival of wood-boring insects in ponderosa pine bolts surface-treated with biochar" Manuscript 3, tentative title "Changes in insect assemblages associated with the use of two soil amendment treatments coupled with biomass removal in mixed conifer forests of northern Idaho" Manuscript 4, tentative title "Survival of red turpentine beetle, Dendroctonus valens, in residual biomass remaining after harvest and soil amendment treatments" Wood decomposition and soils We are currently collecting samples (sample date #4) from all sites. In the spring (2017) we will collect the final data on wood stakes, recollect soil cores to determine nutrients and bulk density at each stake plot, and we will determine canopy coverage at each stake plot. Bulk density and canopy coverage will be used as co-variates in our statistical analyses. Fungal biodiversity Fall 2016 will be the last above-ground fungal survey. Fruiting bodies will be processed and collections will be deposited into the herbarium at the Center for Forest Mycology Research, Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, WI. After the spring 2017 wood stake collection and extraction of DNA, all of the extracted seasonal fungal DNA will be sequenced using Ion TorrentTM next-generation sequencing technologies. Due to known differences between batches of Ion TorrentTM sequencing reagents, all extracted DNA will be sequenced at the end, as an operational control. Fungal community data will be analyzed relative to the treatments and data from collaborating scientists. Fungal community analyses will be prepared in a dissertation.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Forest inventory and soil biological activity Tree measurements were collected late in 2015. These data were combined with previous year measurements to determine treatment responses. Data were analyzed statistically to determine experimental responses. At both the Pitwood and UIdaho Experimental Forest (EF) study locations, trees in thinned plots grew faster than trees in unthinned plots. The two-year basal area growth of trees in thinned plots was 46% larger compared to the unthinned control. There was no growth response to the levels of slash retention in the thinned plots at either location. There were no project-wide tree growth responses to soil amendment use. However, at the moist Pitwood location there was a 26% basal area growth response for fertilized compared to no amendments (p-value = 0.033), and plots with fertilizer plus biochar had 30% larger basal area growth (p-value = 0.010). Canopy light interception was also measured and analyzed during the reporting period. Thinning decreased the amount of intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (IPAR) by 20-40%, and there was 84% greater IPAR at the moist Pitwood location compared to the dry EF location. However, neither soil amendments nor slash retention affected IPAR. During the reporting period, soil respiration and exoenzyme activity were measured in autumn (2015), spring and summer (2016). The seasonal pattern of soil respiration responded differently to thinning at the two locations (location x season x biomass p-value = 0.007). At EF, spring efflux rates were always higher (63%) than summer and fall efflux rates. Yet at Pitwood, thinned plots showed no seasonal pattern, while after thinning summer efflux was highest (42% higher than spring, and 52% larger than fall). Soil respiration showed no response to soil amendments at either location. Soil activity was measured for six exoenzyme in three seasons during the first two-and-a-half post-treatment years. Exoenzymes showed few responses to thinning, slash retention and soil amendment treatments. However, higher activity typically occurred at Pitwood and during summer at both locations. Nitrogen-releasing enzymes (proteases and chitinase) were strongly correlated with carbon releasing (cellulose) enzymes. This normalized nitrogen-release indicator was higher at Pitwood than at EF and higher during summer compared with spring and fall. Invertebrate Sampling: During the past year we continued to sample insect assemblages at all of the study sites but concentrated our work at the two UIEF sites. We continue to identify the trapped organisms (and have those identities confirmed by experts on the specific families). The insect sampling primarily concentrating on two large taxa of organisms, ants and beetles. Because of apparent differences in insect assemblages among treatments, we initiated a series of experiments beginning in 2015 to examine the impact of the applied biochar on insect survival and behavior. In the first of these experiments, we placed various insect species including ants (Formica obscuripes), bark beetles (Ips pini) and two predators of bark beetles (Temnochila chlorodia and Enoclerus sphegeus) into arenas with varying amounts of biochar. The overall results indicated that the organisms required direct contact with the biochar for there to be any effect on survival and that effects were negatively correlated with size of the biochar particles (the smaller the material, the larger the impact) and positively correlated with the concentration of the biochar in the exposure arena. Given that the various insects required contact with the biochar for a measurable impact, we next applied the biochar to the external surface of 1m bolts of either ponderosa pine or Douglas-fir in field trials directly adjacent to our treatment plots. We did not have much attack by any insects on the Douglas-fir bolts. These bolts were treated and exposed in the field during August and September, 2015. In contrast, the ponderosa pine bolts that were treated and exposed in the field during May and June were virtually all attacked by both longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae) and metallic wood-boring beetles (Buprestidae). Bolts treated with biochar were frequently attacked by wood wasps in the genus Sirex, a species of wasps that frequently oviposits in fire-charred standing wood, while a weevil in the genus Pissoides was only found to attack non-treated bolts. Some bark beetle predators such as (Temnochila chlorodia and Enoclerus sphegeus) were common, regardless of treatment. A second set of ponderosa pine bolts was placed in the field during an Ips pini dispersal period and, regardless of treatment, all of the bolts were successfully attacked by this bark beetle, survived within the bolts and emerged in similar densities from the bolts. The third experiment involved monitoring red turpentine beetle (Dendroctonus valens) in/adjacent to treated plots. The beetle is commonly found attacking stumps of harvested trees, with the adults entering the stumps and larvae developing in the remaining bole and root tissue. Based upon emergence densities, we found no difference in survival of the beetles in stumps present in control plots compared with plots that had received a treatment of biochar. Wood decomposition Work on wood decomposition as affected by thinning overstocked forest stands overlaps with all three goals of this project: 1 (determine the effects of biomass removal from thinning overstocked forest sites on soil properties and tree growth), 2 (Assess the impact of biomass removal on fungal and ground-dwelling invertebrate diversity, and 3) Evaluate the capacity of soil amendments to compensate for biomass removal impacts on soil properties, tree growth and biological diversity. In 2014 we installed aspen and pine wood stakes in the mineral soil (vertically), on the surface of the forest floor (horizontally), and, if present, at the interface of the mineral soil and forest floor (horizontally). We are able to collect 5 stakes of each species from each thinning and soil amendment treatment each 6 months. Decomposition has been very slow at the cool/moist site and relatively fast at the warmer/drier sites. Canopy cover and legacy soil compaction on the warm/dry sites also affect the rate of decomposition. We have been measuring CO2 evolution from each stake as it is extracted, but no clear trends are detected at this time. Finally, stakes are being drilled to determine fungal communities at the top and bottom of each mineral stake and on each surface stake. Once the final sample date is complete (spring 2017) fungal DNA will be analyzed and related to wood decomposition. Fungal surveys are conducted every fall on each plot. Fungal diversity Fungal fruiting body surveys from fall of 2015 included 454 observations, representing 104 different fungal species. Epigeal species richness was greatest at the moist location and with the 2X and Control biomass treatments. No significant fungal community response was found relative to soil amendment treatments. Installed wood stakes that were removed in the spring and fall of 2015 were drilled for molecular analysis. Fungal DNA was extracted from drilled wood stake shavings and awaits sequencing.

Publications

  • Type: Book Chapters Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2016 Citation: Anderson N, Bergman R, Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. A supply chain approach to biochar systems. In: Biochar: a regional supply chain approach in view of climate change mitigation. Chapter 2. Cambridge University Press.
  • Type: Book Chapters Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2016 Citation: Bergman R, Gu H, Page-Dumroese DS, Anderson N. 2016. Life cycle analysis of biochar. In: Biochar: a regional supply chain approach in view of climate change mitigation. Chapter 3. Cambridge University Press.
  • Type: Book Chapters Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2016 Citation: Page-Dumroese DS, Coleman M, Thomas SC. 2016. Opportunities and uses of biochar on forest sites in North America. In: Biochar: a regional supply chain approach in view of climate change mitigation. Chapter 15. Cambridge University Press.
  • Type: Journal Articles Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Scott DA, Page-Dumroese DS. 2016. Wood Bioenergy and Soil Productivity Research. BioEnergy Research 9(2): 507-517.


Progress 08/01/14 to 07/31/15

Outputs
Target Audience:During the third year of this project, we have described the project to a range of target audiences. This project is one of several ongoing research projects at the University of Idaho Experimental Forest. Several tours of local interest groups, students, and forest managers have visited the site.We have delivered talks about the results of this project to scientific audiences including presentations at the Soil Science Society of America, Argone Soil Metagenomics Conference, and Northwest Forest Soils Council. . Changes/Problems:Two key PhD graduate students resigned during this project. One has been replaced with an MS student and we will complete the work of the second departed student through the assistance of undergraduate students and through the efforts of principle investigators. Because of these delays, we expect to require additional time for completion. Otherwise, we are on track to accomplish proposed project goals. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided?During the third year of this project, eight undergraduate, graduate and post-doc students have been involved. Each of the undergraduate students has learned about field and lab procedures, study objectives, experimental requirements, and the opportunities that exist in applying research to meet applied objectives. Five graduate students, a post-graduate technician and a post-doc are working on the project, four graduate students will include results from this study in their thesis. Others have helped on this project in exchange for help with their own projects, so even those working on this project were cross trained on other related projects. The early-career technician and a post-doc are lending important expertise to this project, learning about project objectives, and expanding their own knowledge, skills and abilities. The interdisciplinary nature of the projects is even expanding horizons for the five faculty members involved. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?The long-term nature of forestry projects hinders paper publication until the end of the project. Meanwhile, we are presenting information at local, regional and national professional meetings as results develop. This allows us to talk with managers about silvicultural practices and to talk with other scientists to share ideas. One graduate student presented two talks on the soil respiration work in the context of greenhouse gas fluxes. One project scientist presented a talk on organic matter removal that included tree growth, fungal and insect biodiversity and soil biology at a national conference. Another graduate student presented results at the AFRI Investigator meeting. We also hosted a tour of local non-industrial private landowners at one of the field sites. These landowners were interested in bioenergy opportunities and especially interested in protecting the productivity of their land. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Data synthesis and manuscript preparation will continue during this last project year. Manuscripts will include results for tree growth, soil biology, and insect diversity. The first two will be the basis for a master's thesis. The insect diversity and arena challenge studies will be faculty-prepared manuscripts. The wood-rotting fungal diversity will be prepared in a dissertation. The wood-stake decomposition data will require more time to collect data for publication.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? To reach our project goals during year-three of this study we monitored responses to treatments applied to the 64 one-sixth-hectare plots on two locations. One location receives much less precipitation and it is on a south aspect, so it is a drier site. The plots include various levels of biomass retention, fertilizer applications, and biochar amendments according to the original factorial design. Each plot includes a 400 m2 monitoring plot, within which we are measuring tree and soil processes and monitoring the diversity of soil invertebrates and fungi. The third year of the project marks the completion of the first full year of post-treatment sampling. We measured tagged trees inside measurement plots diameter and height. Tree growth within each site was consistent among all plots except unthinned control plots where tree diameter growth was significantly lower from overcrowding. Despite lower individual tree growth, stands of unthinned control plots had greater basal area growth due to the high stem count. Growth was lower on the dry study location compared to the mesic location. Neither slash removal nor amendment treatments affected tree growth at either location. Insect diversity during the third year focused on responses of ant genera to experimental treatments both in the field and in the lab. Loss in the number of ant genera was greatest in field plots where all biomass was removed, and least in unthinned stands. Amendment treatments that included char and fertilizer also showed significant declines in numbers of ant genera. Lab studies with ants and Ips bark beetles contained in arenas showed increasing mortality as the amount of either fertilizer or char increased from 0 to 100 mg of product. In combination, these lab and field studies suggest that char or fertilizer amendments to mitigate removals due to biomass removal will have a negative effect on the number of ant beetle genera. Fungal fruiting body surveys from spring of 2014 demonstrate that species richness declined with slash retention relative to other slash treatments, but did not respond to amendment treatments. Respiration from decomposing wood stakes did not respond to biomass retention or amendment treatments. Measurement of soil biological response included soil respiration and exoenzyme activity. Soil respiration was greater at the moist location especially in autumn, i.e. the end of the seasonal drought period. Soil respiration was higher with amendment treatments that included char and fertilizer compared with plots receiving no amendments. The biomass retenton treatments had no effect on soil respiration. Soil exoenzyme activities show that there is much greater nitrogen release for a given amount of carbon released at the mesic site than the dry site, indicating that the mesic site has greater nitrogen limitations that the dry site. Nitrogen release was much greater during summer than either cooler spring or dryer fall conditions. Neither slash retention nor amendment treatments affected exoenzyme activity. Our soil biological responses demonstrate that both location and seasonal factors influence measurements, and there were few responses to biomass removal or amendments.

Publications

  • Type: Other Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Coleman, M., Cook, S., Shaw, T., Kimsey, M., Sarauer, J., Sherman, L. , Talhelm, A., Jurgensen, M., Page-Dumroese, D., Lindner, D. Indicators for tree growth, soil quality and biodiversity response to forest biomass removal in the Inland Northwest. Soil Science of America, Minneapolis, MN November, 2015
  • Type: Other Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Coleman, M., Cook, S., Jurgensen, M., Lindner, D., Page-Dumroese, D. Impacts of forest biomass removal on soil quality and biodiversity. AFRI Sustainable Bioenergy Investigators meeting. Washington, DC, October 2014.
  • Type: Other Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Sarauer, J., & Coleman, M. The Effect of Long Term Biochar Additions on Greenhouse Gas Flux in Inland Northwest Forest Soils. Northwest Forest Soils Council Annual Meeting, Hood River, OR, March 2015 (invited).
  • Type: Other Status: Accepted Year Published: 2014 Citation: Sarauer, J., & Coleman, M. Understanding the Effects of Long Term Biochar Additions on Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Soil DNA Concentrations. Bioenergy Alliance Network of the Rockies Annual Meeting, Moscow, ID, October 2014.


Progress 08/01/13 to 07/31/14

Outputs
Target Audience: During the second year of this project, we have described the project to a range of target audiences. We explained project objectives to members of our forestry research cooperative at the annual co-op meeting. Members include private, state and federal forest landowners and managers in the Inland Northwest region. This project is one of several ongoing research projects at the University of Idaho Experimental Forest. Several tours of alumni, local interest groups, students, and forest managers have visited the site. Our College of Natural Resources produced a video describing treatment installation. While we installed treatments, we were careful to inform contractors and student labor crews of project objectives. We will focus more attention on scientific audiences as results become available. Changes/Problems: To better understand the impact of the treatments on tree- and slash-inhabiting groups of insects, we will initiate targeted experiments. We will treat 1 m bolts of freshly cut trees with biochar, fertilizer and a combination of biochar and fertilizer during the late summer. These log bolts will be placed in open- and closed-canopy stands and left in the field for approximately two months. The bolts will then be maintained under laboratory conditions and all insects that emerge from them will be identified. Following insect emergence, we will remove the bark to determine the amount of inner bark that was utilized by insect herbivores. These measurements will allow us to determine if differences among treatments occur in the assemblage of attacking insects or in attack density and/or survival of these insect taxa. Treatment installation proved particularly difficult because there are no current forest biomass removal operations from pre-commercial thinning operations. The biomass clearing (over 200 Mg) biochar application (over 16 Mg) were particularly labor intensive. We shifted funding for personnel to contract labor crew, and used operating expenses for monitoring to implement the treatments. Meeting all monitoring objectives may not be possible given these required upfrong consts. Also, it is fortunate that the University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources partnered with this project to supplement contract- and student-labor requirements. It is very early in the development of the forest biofuel industry, which made implementation of this project challenging. However, we are very excited about the opportunity this study provides to learn details of biomass removal at such an early stage. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Thus far, this project has included over 26 personnel, of which at least 22 are students. Much of this was labor required for plot installations, but even those hard-working students learned about the study objectives, requirements for installing rigorous forestry experiments, and the opportunities that exist in applying research to meet pragmatic objectives. Seven graduate student are working on the project, four of which will include the work in their thesis. Others have helped with this project in exchange for help with their own project, so even those working on this project receive cross-training on other related projects. Two early-career technicians and a post-doc are lending important expertise to this project, learning about project objectives along with students, and expanding their own knowledge, skills and abilities. The scientists are expanding horizons by working on an interdisciplinary project and extending their knowledge and expertise to new applications. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? Forestry projects require time to impose treatments, collect responses and interpret results. So no papers have yet been published. However, we have had numerous opportunities to discuss the objectives of the project and promote bioenergy research. One of the project scientists has presented two talks on converting biomass to biofuels and biochar to National Forest personnel and lectured to students. Another professor has included examples from this study into undergraduate class material. Another scientist and graduate students have presented invertebrate and forestry results at stakeholder and professional society meetings. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? We will continue to monitor tree, soil, invertrebrate and fungal responses to applied treatments through the end of the project, including this next year. Trees and wood stakes will be monitored annually, soil enzymes, invertrebrates, and soil fungi will be monitored quarterly to semi-annuallly, soil respiration will be monitored monthly, soil environment loggers record hourly. We will keep up with sample analysis for soil enzymes, soil chemical and physical characteristics, and fruiting body DNA. Post-treatment Down woody material will be surveyed fall of 2015 this next year. We will continue sampling the insect assemblages on the sites. Select families will be identified to species and initial comparisons among treatments will be made. Families of specific interest include the ants and several important species of beetles including bark beetles (Curculionidae, Scolytinae), longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae), metallic wood-boring beetles (Buprestidae), checkered beetles (Cleridae) and bark-gnawing beetles (Trogositidae). The site on private timber land will have wood stakes installed this fall after rains begin. Wood stakes and fungal surveys will be used to determine the influence of thinning and site amendments on belowground processes.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? To reach our experimental objectives, we applied treatments to 64 one-sixth-hectare plots on two forest land ownerships. The plots include various levels of biomass retention, fertilizer applications, and biochar amendments according to the original factorial design. Each plot includes a 400 square meter monitoring plot, within which we are monitoring trees, soil invertebrates and fungi. Annual post-treatment monitoring commenced in Fall, trees inside the measurement plot were tagged and measured for DBH and height. As expected, thinning treatments effectively lowered stand density and increased average trees size. Soil moisture/temperature data loggers were installed in fall of 2013 after treatment application. Soil exo-enzyme activity was analyzed in the top 10 cm in fall 2013 and spring 2014. Soil samples collected in May 2014 were extracted to determine total ammonium, nitrate, and amino acids. Pre- and Post-treatment soil respiration was monitored monthly during snow-free periods. Soil cores were collected from each study plot for analysis of C, N, OM, pH, Ca, Mg, and K. Samples were collected by depth in the mineral soil (0-10, 10-20, and 20-30 cm). In addition, forest floor samples were collected. We sampled insect assemblages in plots receiving biomass, biochar and/or fertilizer treatments . The insect sampling is primarily concentrating on two large taxa of organisms, ants and beetles. Because of apparent differences in insect assemblages among treatments, we have initiated experiments to examine the impact of the applied biochar and/or fertilizer on survival and behavior of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) and ground beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae) under laboratory conditions (see Changes) Surveys of fungal fruiting bodies were completed at each of the sites post-harvest in the fall of 2013. Fruiting bodies have been accessioned into the US Forest Service herbarium (Center for Forest Mycology Research), examined microscopically for preliminary identification, and small portions have been removed from each fruiting body and preserved for molecular identification. To date, approximately one third of the specimens (40 of 120) have been fully processed for molecular identification by sequencing of the ITS region of rDNA. In addition, standard wood stakes were installed at the 2 UIEF sites.

Publications


    Progress 08/01/12 to 07/31/13

    Outputs
    Target Audience: During the first year of this project we have described the project to a range of target audiences. We explained project objectives to members of our forestry research cooperative at the annual co-op meeting. Members include private, state and federal forest landowners and managers in the Inland Northwest region. We also described the project to small private forest landowners during the WA-ID Forest Landowner Field Day. We also informed contractors and student labor crews of project objectives. We will focus more attention on scientific audiences as results become available. Changes/Problems: One of the selected sites deviated from that described in the proposal due to a misunderstanding in the age of the original stand. Consequently, the second stand is not located on National Forest land, but rather on private timberland. The student crew was unable to accomplish all of the slash redistribution treatments. Funds allotted for student labor, was instead used to cover a labor contract crew to move the biomass. These changes will not alter project budget, objectives or schedule. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as post-doc and professional employees have been trained during the treatment application phase. Two graduate students are working directly on the project. A third monitored the cable winch efficiency as part of a collaborating forest operations project. Undergraduates helped with treatment applications. A post-doc has greatly assisted with treatment applications with support from a parallel project. Eight undergraduates or recent graduates comprised one labor crew. Contractors have also been engaged to accomplish projects objectives, several of which are unique and provides these firms to learn about biomass to bioenergy applications. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? The first-year accomplishments were documented at the 2013 AFRI Investigator’s meeting in Washington, DC. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Split plot treatments will be applied early in the next reporting period. We will commence monitoring of treatment response regarding soil, stand and biodiversity. Much of the remaining project effort will be focused on careful monitoring of treatment responses.

    Impacts
    What was accomplished under these goals? During the first year of the project, we identified two sites for inclusion in the study. One site is located on University of Idaho Experimental forest and the second site is located on Potlatch ground. These sites are representative of the range of forestry sites in northern Idaho. For each location, we laid out plots and preliminary data was collected on characteristics of stand, soil and invertebrate population. Four whole plot treatments were applied including 1) tree thinning, and removal of slash resulting from thinning operations, 2) retention of the normal amount of slash, 3) doubled slash by distributing biomass from cleared plots over normal slash loads, or 4) preserving the original stand structure as an unthinned control. During biomass removal, retention and doubling slash operations, we moved approximately 30 tons of biomass using mainly contract and student labor. After thinning treatments, we measured the impact on stand structure and surveyed invertebrate populations.

    Publications