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Sustainability of teepee pole stands on Mescalero Apache tribal lands: characteristics and climate change effects

Mockta, Tyler K (2018) Sustainability of teepee pole stands on Mescalero Apache tribal lands: characteristics and climate change effects. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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The Mescalero Apache tribe conduct a coming of age ceremony for young women who follow a traditional way of life. In order to conduct this ceremony, tall, thin teepee poles made from Douglas-fir trees are needed. Douglas-fir trees capable of producing teepee poles are a culturally important resource for the Mescalero Apache tribe. We interacted with tribal members, medicine men, and tribal foresters to gain insight on characteristics of teepee pole stands. We established thirty, 0.1 acre (400 m2) circular plots with nested 0.025 acre (100 m2) regeneration plots in teepee pole producing stands to characterize composition, structure, age, growth rates, and fuels. Teepee pole producing stands occupy elevation ranges from 6,600 to 8,400 ft (2012 to 2561 m), slopes of 3%-43%, and aspects from NW to NE. The stands consist of dense, relatively old trees dominated by Douglas-fir, with other species of trees, namely white fir, southwestern white pine, ponderosa pine, Gambel oak, and juniper usually present as a minor component. Douglas-firs in teepee pole producing stands averaged 508 ± 40 trees per acre (TPA) (1255 ± 99 trees per ha (TPH)), 138.1 ± 6.5 ft2/ac basal area (31.7 ± 1.5 m2/ha), and 7.3 ± 0.2 in (18.5 ± 0.5 cm) quadratic mean diameters (QMD). Douglas-fir trees in teepee pole producing stands were most commonly 75-100 years old with diameters at breast height (DBH) ranging from 2-10 in (5.1-25.4 cm). In order to assess future trajectories of teepee pole stands, we applied the model Climate-Forest Vegetation Simulator (C-FVS) which incorporates the effects of climate change scenarios over the next 100 years. We compared three standard scenarios ranging from moderate to severe climate change, Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5, 6.0, and 8.5. Simulated future forests at the current plot locations did not contain Douglas-fir after a century of modeling, even under the mildest climate scenario, RCP 4.5. Ninety-seven percent of plots failed to maintain a minimum basal area of 5 ft2/ac (1.1 m2/ha) of any species. Complete forest mortality was predicted under RCP 6.0 and RCP 8.5. Comparing bioclimatic niche modeling of Douglas-fir with downscaled future climate scenarios indicated that the species would have to be planted at least 1000 ft (305 m) higher to maintain 21st century viability under RCP 4.5 and 6.0, or at least 2000 ft (610 m) higher under RCP 8.0. The characterization of current teepee pole producing stands and simulations of future effects of climate change provide useful information to the Mescalero Apache Tribe to support management decisions on how they would like to preserve this cultural important resource.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Assisted Migration; Climate-Forest Vegetation Simulator; Douglas-fir; New Mexico; Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Subjects: S Agriculture > SD Forestry
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences > School of Forestry
Date Deposited: 10 May 2021 20:27
URI: http://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5461

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