Module 3 — Stand level components
of biodiversity
British Columbia
Ministry of Forests
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Module 3

Module 3D — Forest floor
 
forest floor line drawing
     

In this part

 
     

Learner outcomes

icon

 

On completion of part 3D, you will understand the role that the stand level component — forest floor — plays in forest biodiversity and you will be able to:

  1. Describe the components of a forest floor

  2. Identify forest management applications for forest floor

  3. Describe the role of forest floor in forest biodiversity

The questions on the left side of the page are to assist you in keeping actively involved in the material and your learning. Answer them silently or in writing.

     

General information about forest floor

 

Forest floor includes humus, decomposing materials, and freshly deposited leaf litter.

Mushroom Forest floor provides suitable habitat for a diverse community of invertebrates including nematodes, roundworms, and arthropods. These in turn play an important role as decomposers and as a food source for a variety of vertebrates such as shrews, which forage on the ground. 

     

iconWhat role does forest floor play in forest biodiversity?

 

It supports a variety of saprophytic plants, bacteria, and fungi that aid in decomposition processes and nutrient cycling with the rootlets of trees and shrubs.

Numerous soil fungi, called mycorrhizae, form essential symbiotic relationships (nutrient uptake transfer) with the rootlets of most tree and shrub species found in BC.

Several million bacteria, tens of thousands of fungal propagules, and several kilometres of fungal strands (hyphae) can be present in a single gram of soil.

For more information on soil biodiversity, see Appendix 1 (Soil biodiversity) 

Forest floor

The presence of surface organic matter affects soil water holding capacity, aeration, drainage, and cation exchange.

The forest floor contains nutrients that are important in maintaining long-term site productivity.

     

iconWhat else do you know about this topic?

 

Forest floors play a major role in determining the vegetative composition of ecosystems through impacts on soil structure, nutrient spectrum, organic matter content, water retention and drainage, and pH.

Forest practices that minimize soil disturbance are the best way to maintain belowground biodiversity and ensure the continued functioning of the soil ecosystem.

     
   

Maintain soil integrity by minimizing:

  • Compaction
  • Displacement (loss of organic matter)
  • Loss to erosion and wasting
  • The removal of wildlife tree patches (containing intact forest floor)
  • Piling and burning
     
Applications to forest management

iconAre there other applications? If so, list them.

 Explain each of these terms

  Maintain soil and forest floor integrity by minimizing:
  • Disturbance to the forest floor during harvesting
  • Compaction
  • Displacement (loss of organic matter)
  • Loss to erosion and wasting
  • Disturbance of reserve areas, including wildlife tree patches
  • Piling and burning
     
  next Next: Part 3D closure
 
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