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Coram Experimental Forest
Contact Information
  • Coram Experimental Forest
  • Forest and Woodland Ecosystems Science Program
  • 800 East Beckwith Avenue
  • Missoula, MT 59801
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Research

Overview

The Coram Experimental Forest (CEF) uniquely represents western larch-mixed conifer forests of the Northern Rockies, albeit somewhat drier than those forests to the west in Idaho. Diverse and productive, the importance of this forest type to management priorities of federal land managers cannot be overstated. For example, the long-term silvicultural studies installed at CEF are allowing researchers and managers to understand the effects of multiple entries into stands on soil and forest productivity, as well as the potential of various silvicultural approaches to designing restoration of wildlife habitat. Coram Experimental Forest has been and continues to be useful for the education of students, the public, and land managers.

Research has been conducted on the CEF since the 1940’s. An annotated bibliography of research related to the CEF is currently in final draft (see Publications). References were entered into a bibliographic database which includes over 200 annotated citations. Due to several staff retirements, personnel reassignments and conflicting priorities, work on the CEF was slow in the 2000’s. However, acknowledgement of the importance of this forest type to wildlife habitat and its potential loss to changing climate is resulting in increased attention to the need for restoration approaches. Remeasurement of existing long-term studies is providing insights for new management questions, and new studies are in planning stages. CEF and its cache of long-term experimental silviculture studies can provide valuable guidance for restoration management.

New Studies & Remeasurement of Existing Studies

We welcome ideas for new research and remeasurement of existing studies on the Coram; please contact the Scientist in Charge.

History

Research began on the Coram Experimental Forest (CEF) in 1948 and focus of the work has varied with time.

  • Through the 1950's objectives were to learn how to regenerate western larch and associated conifers using even-aged methods of regeneration harvest cutting (clear-cutting) coupled with a wide range of site preparation treatments, including burning.
  • Research in the 1960's determined how to regenerate larch by seeding and planting and how the growth of young larch forests, grown under a wide range of stand densities, respond as individual trees and by stands.
  • Studies in the 1970's featured multidisciplinary research in a forest residues utilization research and development program. Water use, soil conditions, forest biomass, and understory were evaluated in addition to tree characteristics.
  • Research in the 1980's studied late-successional dynamics within the Coram Research Natural Area, cone production in young larch stands, and differences in bird populations within logged and unlogged areas.
  • The 1990's and 2000's continued ongoing long-term studies and expanded the dissemination of results through conservation education locally, regionally, and internationally. The last active treatment on the Coram Experimental Forest was performed in 2000. Due to several staff retirements, personnel reassignments and conflicting priorities, work on the CEF was slow in the 2000’s.
  • 2010's. Acknowledgement of the importance of this forest type to wildlife habitat and its potential loss to changing climate is resulting in increased attention to the need for restoration approaches. CEF and its cache of long-term experimental silviculture studies can provide valuable guidance for restoration management.

RMRS – Cooperator Collaboration

  • Resampling Coram Experimental Forest – Forest Residues Utilization Program: Monitoring Forest Recovery and C & N Pools 30 Years Later — RMRS, University of Montana, Michigan State University. This study takes advantage of a long-term study installed at the CEF in 1974 to now address contemporary and critical management information needs about the sustainability of biomass harvesting techniques.
  • Complex Mountain Landscapes Research Coordination Network — RMRS, University of Montana, University of Idaho, USGS. An NSF-funded effort to address the sustainability of humans and ecological systems in the northern Rocky Mountains by developing partnerships among universities, land management agencies, Tribes, and non-governmental organizations.

Long Term Studies

Completed Studies (Some of the More Significant)

  • Natural regeneration following methods of site preparation, 1949-1960.
  • Dispersal of conifer seed, 1949-1956.
  • Shelterwood and seed tree cutting, site preparation methods, and natural regeneration of conifers, 1950 -1984.
  • Clearcuttings, site preparation, seed dispersal, and natural regeneration of conifers, 1954-1974.
  • Strip clearcutting, site preparation, growth of unmerchantable understory trees, and natural regeneration of conifers, 1954-1974.
  • Group seed tree cutting, site preparation, and natural regeneration of conifers, 1956-1968.
  • Direct seeding, germination, and seedling survival of conifers, 1958-1964.
  • Small mammal relationships in old growth and recently harvested western larch, 1961-1964, 1992.
  • Effects of wide tree spacing and site on flowering response of larch to stem injection of GA4/7, 1991-1996.
  • Bird populations, Coram Experimental Forest, 1989.

Continuing Studies

  • Influence of regulated stand densities in young western larch stands on individual tree and stand growth, 1961-2001:
    • On insect, disease, and physical damage, 1961-2001.
    • On water relations and phenology, 1968-1988.
    • On vegetation development, 1970 - 2005.
    • On cone production, 1984-1995.
  • Evaluation of alternative timber harvesting practices (“forest residues”) on regeneration, vegetation, and stand development and soil water use, 1974-present, last measured 2012.
  • Vegetation change and seedfall on permanent plots, Coram Research Natural Area, 1993, 1997.
  • Climate and hydrology of Coram Experimental Forest, 1974-present. Weather and hydrologic stations are semi-annually maintained.