Date of Award

Winter 2007

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources: Forestry

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Mark J Ducey


Coarse woody debris (CWD)---downed forest wood and snags---has been afforded increasing attention in the past decade as studies illuminate the role of dead wood in the study of global carbon cycling, wildlife, forest fire, and soil ecology. Accordingly, the need for efficient sampling methods of CWD has grown. This study compares the field efficiency and bias of seven traditional and novel sampling techniques. Methods were tested in 14 forest stands across 3 broad study regions---alpine and ponderosa forests in Colorado and coastal rainforest in British Columbia.

For sampling downed wood volume, perpendicular distance sampling (PDS) proves to be the most efficient, unbiased method tested across all three study areas. For snag inventory, choice of sampling technique depends on stand conditions---generally, fixed area sampling is most efficient when estimates of snag abundance are desired, while modified horizontal line sampling is most appropriate for sampling snag volume.