Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Initial disturbance intensity affects recovery rates and successional divergence on abandoned ski slopes

Citation

Burt, Jennifer W.; Clary, Jeffrey J. (2016), Data from: Initial disturbance intensity affects recovery rates and successional divergence on abandoned ski slopes, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.97803

Abstract

The importance of site history (including initial disturbance intensity and propagule arrival) in determining successional trajectories is a key theoretical and applied line of research in ecology. Abandoned ski slopes provide an opportunity to study successional processes following differing initial disturbance intensities. Some ski slopes are graded with heavy equipment when constructed (‘graded’, severe initial disturbance), while others are simply cleared of tall woody vegetation (‘cleared’, lesser initial disturbance). In a blocked chronosequence study of graded and cleared ski slopes abandoned 10–43 years previously, we found that graded ski slopes did not show predictable recovery trajectories over many decades. In contrast, cleared ski runs showed significant convergence with adjacent reference forest communities. Convergence in community composition on cleared ski runs was driven by trees, though understorey species were more numerous and dominant during succession. Understorey communities did not predictably change in species or life-form composition over time, regardless of ski run type. Graded ski runs exhibited little or no edaphic recovery over time, showing neither reductions in bare ground and visible soil erosion, nor increases in soil depth. Cleared ski runs, in contrast, showed evidence of recovery in all of these variables except soil depth, which remained uniformly high. Synthesis and applications. The creation of new ski slopes by tree clearing is preferable to the grading of new slopes with heavy machinery, because grading reduces ecosystem function and decreases the predictability of soil and vegetation recovery decades after abandonment. Existing graded ski slopes (both operational and abandoned) may benefit from restoration of soils and vegetation.

Usage Notes

Location

United States of America
California
Sierra Nevada mountains
Nevada