As mentioned in the previous blog, we have teamed up with the UNBC Enhanced Forestry Lab to grow some larch and cedar seedlings for planting out on the research forest.
Larch seedlings Jan 19th
Seeds were planted just before Christmas and it was the larch seedlings which popped to the surface first. It has been and still is very noticeable the difference in growth between the two species.
Larch seedlings Feb 15th
Talking with Steve Storch (Greenhouse Curator) last week, about the cedar seedlings in particular, he commented that the cedar seedlings appeared to germinate quicker in the conventional gravel grit compared to seeds covered with “styrogrit” (made from recycled styroblocks). Steve indicated that the seeds covered with styrogrit seemed to be about 2 weeks slower than those covered with the gravel grit. He further explained that this would intuitively make sense since the styrogrit is white and reflects heat, while the gravel grit is grey and darkens up even more when wet. this likely leads to a higher temperature near the seed which is good for seed germination in general. The white reflective grit may perform better when the seedlings are bigger when we will be more concerned with how fast the blocks dry out.
Cedar seedlings Jan 19th
Styrogrit was used with the larch seeds, on all the blocks, so there isn’t a growth comparison for that species.
Traditional species choices for reforestation in the sub-boreal spruce (SBS) forests of Central Interior BC tend to be historically limited to mainly spruce and lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir on some warmer sites, and subalpine fir (mainly through natural regeneration). However, two other tree species native to the BC Interior, western larch (Larix occidentalis) and western redcedar (Thuja plicata), show intriguing potential for adding to the species diversity and management of second-growth SBS forests. Initial experience and observations suggest that western larch is best suited to warmer, better-drained, lower brush-hazard sites in the sub-boreal, while in contrast, western redcedar will be suited to some moist cool seepage sites with higher brush hazards.
The first time I went into the field with amphibian biologist Mark Thompson, it was early spring and we were checking ponds, puddles, road-side ditches and rotten wood for evidence of breeding toads, frogs and salamanders. Walking along a trail, we were feverishly flipping dead rotten wood, a typical hiding spot for salamanders. “They’re really quick, so you have to be fast to catch them” Mark would say. We would then carefully put the material back where we found it, to ensure that the habitat was intact for them to use eventually. At one point, I turned around and there was Mark knee-deep in a wet alder swale, looking for tadpoles and larvae, and swarming with mosquitoes. “I get so focused on looking for them that I don’t even notice the bugs anymore.”