Introduction to the fia down woody materials indicator 1st of 3 part training series
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Introduction to the FIA Down Woody Materials Indicator 1st of 3 Part Training Series. Christopher Woodall DWM National Indicator Advisor. Outline. Indicator Updates What are Down Woody Materials? Why Collect DWM data? Sampling Design Theory. Indicator Updates. No sample protocol changes

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Introduction to the FIA Down Woody Materials Indicator 1st of 3 Part Training Series

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Introduction to the FIA Down Woody Materials Indicator1st of 3 Part Training Series

Christopher Woodall

DWM National Indicator Advisor


  • Indicator Updates

  • What are Down Woody Materials?

  • Why Collect DWM data?

  • Sampling Design Theory

Indicator Updates

  • No sample protocol changes

  • Field manual updated in 2004

  • Web-site updated

  • DWM sample design and analysis in press – NC-GTR-256

  • Web-based dissemination of data and wider use of data

Definition of DWM

Dead material within forests in various stages of decay such as fallen trees, branches, and leaf litter

The FIA program places numerous forest ecosystem components into the DWM Indicator

DWM Components

Coarse Woody Debris









Coarse and Fine Woody Debris

Fuel-Hour Classes

Duff and Litter

“dead plant material on forest floor surface”

“unrecognizable plant parts”

Slash/Residue Piles

Piles of CWD

Shrub and Herbs

“Live and dead shrubs/herbs including grass, herbaceous woody plants, and vines”


“Depth of the fuel’s complex, from forest floor to the tallest fuel component”

Why collect DWM data?

  • Indicator of Forest Health

  • Wildlife Habitat

  • Fuels Estimation

  • Carbon Estimation

  • Completes Life Cycle of Trees

Indicator of Forest Health

Crown Condition


Ozone Injury

Down Woody Materials


Vegetation Structure and Diversity

Tree Damage


The DWM Inventory describes the amount and condition of wildlife habitat through estimation of coarse woody debris attributes.


Mean estimates of CWD volumes for forests of the North Central Region


Proportions of coarse woody debris pieces per acre by transect diameter (A) and decay class (B) (1=least decayed, 5=most decayed), Indiana, 2001-2003





Total Fine Woody Debris

Fire Science

Estimates for DWM in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Compared to rest of region

Carbon Estimation

Estimates of Regional Carbon Pools for Coarse Woody Debris

Estimates for International Treaties and Criterion Indicators

DWM and National Inventory

Completes inventory of trees from living, to dead, to decomposed

Microplot Sapling

Sub-plot Tree

Sub-plot Standing Dead

DWM Down and Dead

Summary of DWM Components

DWM Sampling Theory

DWM diversity requires a diversity of sampling methods

Sampling on the Sub-Plot

Slash Piles


Similar to sampling phase two trees, if a center of a slash pile coincides with a subplot it is considered an “in” slash pile







Sampling on the Sub-Plot

“out” slash pile

“in” slash pile

Slash piles are sampled across all four subplots

FIA Subplot

Sampling on the Microplot

In order to estimate shrub/herb heights and coverage for forests (fuel ladders)

estimate shrub/herb heights and coverage occurring on micro-plot

6.8 ft


Depth Estimates on Subplot


In order to estimate depth of duff, litter, and the fuelbed on a subplot…


12 sample points located for measurement on subplots


Depth Estimates on Subplots


Sample Locations




Transect Sampling

FWD and CWD pieces are not all counted within a given area


All FWD and CWD pieces that intersect a sampling plane are tallied

Transect Sampling

Probability of match stick intersecting randomly placed line related to number of sticks and length of line

Transect Sampling Planes

DWM Sample Protocol establishes 6 foot tall sampling transects that radiate from FIA subplot centers to intersect fine woody pieces

CWD and FWD Transects

Use 3 transects established on each subplot to sample CWD, one transect on each subplot to sample FWD

Bringing it all Together


  • The DWM indicator estimates numerous ecosystem components

  • Data Crucial to Fire, Carbon, and Wildlife Sciences

  • Integral Part of National FIA Program, Completes Tree Life Cycle

  • Series of different sampling techniques for estimation of various DWM components applied to phase two plots

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