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FIA’s Down Woody Materials Field Sampling Protocols. 2 nd of 3 Part Training Series. Outline. Plot-level Variables Transect Segmenting Coarse Woody Debris Fine Woody Debris Duff and Litter Slash Piles. Plot-level variables.

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2 nd of 3 part training series

FIA’s Down Woody Materials Field Sampling Protocols

2nd of 3 Part Training Series

Christopher Woodall

  • Plot-level Variables
  • Transect Segmenting
  • Coarse Woody Debris
  • Fine Woody Debris
  • Duff and Litter
  • Slash Piles
plot level variables
Plot-level variables
  • Since we will have a mixture of P3 plots and various P2+ sample designs in the database…we need ways to distinguish

Variable: Sampling Status

0 = Not sampling DWM

1 = BASE DWM variables collected

If sampling DWM…then remainder of variables tell us which sample design you used ( we autopopulate?)

plot level variables1
Plot-level variables

Variable: Number of Subplots

Value = 4

Variable: Number of Transects per Subplot

Value = 2

Variable: Transect length

Value = 24

  • All sampling occurs on transects
  • P2+ should save time by not wandering off transects

Even though each subplot transect looks like one 48 foot transect, it is still considered as two 24 foot transects originating at sub-plot center

CWD and Slash Piles

24 feet (h.d.)

Three / subplot

FWD (large)

10 ft(h.d.)

6 ft(h.d.)

FWD (small & medium)

14 ft


20 ft




Duffand Litter depths

24 ft. (h.d.) location, every transect

transect segmenting
Transect Segmenting

1) Only sample DWM components on accessible forest land

2) Must map changes in forest condition classes along transects

transect segmenting1
Transect segmenting


CC #2

10 ft


CC #1

Transect length must equal 24 ft, Horizontal Dist.

transect segmenting2
Transect segmenting
  • Transect orientation changes by subplot…big change from P3

Subplot 1: 90 and 270

Subplot 2: 180 and 360

Subplot 3: 135 and 315

Subplot 4: 45 and 225

transect segment sample status
Transect segment Sample Status
  • Always recorded as 1 if coarse woody debris can be measured…even 1 for non-forest since we know no DWM is there
  • Recorded as 0 if coarse woody debris cannot be measured due to water or snow obstruction
cwd decay classes
CWD Decay Classes

Moderate Decay

Mostly Decayed

Freshly Fallen

Tally Rules Depend on Decay of Individual Pieces

coarse woody debris definitions
Coarse Woody Debris Definitions

Point of Intersection


Transect Diameter

CWD Piece Axis

  • Decay Classes 1 - 4
  • Piece >= 3” Transect Diameter
  • Piece >= 0.5’ Long
  • Decay Class 5
  • Piece >= 5” Transect Diameter
  • Piece >= 0.5’ Long
  • Piece >= 5” Above ground-level
cwd tally rules continued
CWD Tally Rules Continued

Only tally portion of log above ground and or above water

Standing dead trees are CWD if they lean >= 45  from vertical

Tally a piece each time it intersects any transect, regardless of the number of times

If log split down center, treat as two separate pieces

Do not tally roots

cwd forks and branches
CWD Forks and Branches

Forked Pieces

Each fork is tallied if it meets minimum specs

Large branch

Branch must meet minimum specs

cwd measurements
CWD Measurements



Decay Class


Diameter at Hollow

Length => 3ft?

horizontal distance

separated cwd pieces
Separated CWD Pieces

CWD Diameter

CWD Diameter

If CWD piece is fractured, either across diameter or length, and crew determines it would separate if pulled by either end… Then… Tally as two separate CWD pieces

slash residue piles
Slash/Residue piles
  • Totally revised from old P3 methods
  • Now sampled along transects

End of pile

Start of pile

slash residue piles1
Slash/residue piles
  • Loose piles should be sampled with regular CWD transects
  • Only use pile protocol if safety issue or CWD protocols do not work
  • If pile straddles 2 conditions pick the condition closest to subplot center
  • Visually compact pile along transect then estimate compacted height
  • Just like CWD, estimate the species and decay class of the majority/plurality of pieces in pile
compacted height estimation
Compacted Height Estimation
  • Determine average height along transect
  • Move that average height down to account for density of CWD in pile
  • Record compacted height
pile density estimation
Pile density estimation


Be careful with your compacted height = amount of solid wood you are saying covers the ground within a condition = a lot of dead wood in a forest

fine woody debris
Fine Woody Debris
  • Wood material less than 3 inches in diameter at point of intersection with transect up to 6 feet from the ground
fwd size classes
FWD Size Classes

Coarse woody debris

(>= 3 inches at transect)

Large FWD

(1.0 to 2.9 inches at transect)

Medium FWD

( 0.25 to 0.9 inches at transect)

Small FWD

(<= 0.24 inches at transect)

fwd sample design
FWD sample design

Tallied on end of one transect on each subplot

Size-Class Tally Counts

10 ft(h.d.)

Large FWD: Tally pieces 1” – 2.9”

6 ft(h.d.)

Medium FWD: Tally pieces >= ¼ ” – .9”

Small FWD: Tally pieces < ¼ ”

14 ft


20 ft




fwd sample design1
FWD Sample design
  • Tally FWD at the end of these transects for specific subplots

Subplot 1: 270

Subplot 2: 360

Subplot 3: 135

Subplot 4: 225

fwd tally rules
Fwd tally rules
  • Estimate FWD tally after count > 50 for diameter < 1 inch
  • Estimate FWD tally after count > 20 for diameter >= 1 inch
  • Make attempt to tally FWD first due to trampling
  • Do not include litter material in counts
  • If count exceeds 100 in any size class indicate reason why (i.e. rat’s nest, fallen tree, or residue pile)
  • Not attached to standing tree, dead or alive
  • Only tally FWD on top of litter layer…do not dig through litter
fwd sample status
FWD Sample Status
  • Always recorded as 1 if fine woody debris can be measured…even 1 for non-forest since we know no FWD is there
  • Recorded as 0 if fine woody debris cannot be measured due to water or snow obstruction
fine woody debris1
Fine woody debris

Count FWD pieces, by size class, intersecting subplot transects

duff and litter
Duff and Litter
  • 8 depth measurements on a fully forested plot with no water/snow obstructions
litter definition
Litter definition
  • Loose plant material (excluding woody material you already measured) on surface of forest floor that is either undecomposed or partially decomposed
duff definition
Duff definition
  • Layer just below litter above mineral A-horizon…dominated by dark and highly decomposed organic material where you cannot identify originally plant parts
  • If you are in a peat land area then duff=peat material
duff and litter1
Duff and litter





Mineral Soil


Rocks and logs are not considered obstructions…measure as zero.


Water or snow cover are considered non-sampled

Measure depths at 24 ft(horizontal distance) at end of every transect.

duff and litter sample status
Duff and litter sample status

Duff and litter depth not sampled



Duff and litter depth sampled

Only water and snow considered obstacles to sampling

duff and litter method
Duff and litter Method

Duff and litter depth measured




Litter measured and duff estimated

Both litter and duff estimated

Should allow more freedom in deep duff areas to explain what was done on the plot

duff and litter2
Duff and litter

Depth of 2 organic layers above mineral soil


Blast from Past Part 2

2005 National P3


Ocala, FL