The Lumberjack student newspaper
A forest plot that received variable-density retention treatment. Photo courtesy of Alexander Goreman.

Big trees, small trees, finding strengths in diversity


For Chelsea Obeidy, an environmental science graduate from Humboldt State, a small senior capstone project studying how different factors affect seedling growth became a publication.

“I approached professor Pascal Berrill with the idea to monitor seedling growths for my senior capstone project,” Obeidy said. “I was interested in seedling monitoring on the variable density retention patches that Berrill and Christa Dagley had developed.”

Variable-density retention is a method of forest restoration that originated from HSU, according to Dr. Pascal Berrill, a professor in the department of forestry and wildland resources at HSU. In variable-density retention, overpopulated trees are thinned to maintain different densities while underpopulated trees are planted at different densities to encourage a natural-looking restoration. To apply this method, an area of the forest containing these trees can be divided into small regions or patches that receive varying levels of tree thinning and planting.

Pascal Berrill, Obeidy’s research advisor, applies this method to restore the growth of conifers, specifically Douglas firs, in a forest area that has been dominantly populated by tanoaks.

“About 50-60 years ago, people came in to harvest wood from the forests in California,” Berrill said. “When they did this, they only harvested Douglas firs and left the smaller hardwood trees, or tanoaks alone. Douglas firs are much more profitable comparing to tanoaks.”

Alexander Goreman is a forestry senior at HSU on Berrill’s team.

“Douglas firs are big trees and their trunks are straight, which makes them easier to process into lumber for different usages,” Goreman said. “Tanoaks have twisted trunks, which makes them harder to process and therefore, are only profitable as firewood.”

Clearing away Douglas firs provides space for tanoaks to thrive and take over the forest. An increase in tanoaks density is a cause for concern.

“Douglas firs are very fire resistant while tanoaks are not,” Berrill said. “Having a high density of tanoaks pose a greater wildfire threat to the forest comparing to Douglas fir. Introducing Douglas fir back into the population would decrease that risk.”

In addition to decreasing wildfire, increasing Douglas fir population while decreasing tanoaks population would lead to more tree diversity in the forest system.

“Increasing tree diversity would allow the forest to better fight off diseases among trees,” Obeidy said.

“Restoring Douglas fir population to meet the area’s original Douglas fir-to-tanoaks ratio would also encourage populations of animals that are native to the area to come back,” team member Goreman said.

To test which patch in the variable-density retention treatment produced the best growth for Douglas fir, Douglas fir seedlings were planted in each of the patches, then students collected growth measurement on the seedlings. The students also recorded factors that might affect seedling growth, such as light availability to the plants and resources competition.

“We found that below-ground competition was the factor that affected seedling growth the most,” Goreman said.

Below-ground competition occurs when plants decrease one another’s growth by competing for resources within the soil. The team found that when there were more tanoaks surrounding the Douglas firs seedlings, and at closer distances, seedling growth was greatly decreased. This is an indication that below-ground competition may be contributing to the change in growth.

Conducting research with Berrill was a valuable experience for Goreman.

“This was a cool opportunity for me to learn how to apply the things I learned in my classes and to collaborate with students from other departments,” Goreman said.

Obeidy said his experience conducting research benefited his academic career.

“This project specifically helped me find a beneficial approach to the scientific method, delineate a hypothesis and present the results in a meaningful way,” Obeidy said.

Share This Post

More Stories

Nina G uses comedy to start conversations

During the virtual comedy event held by the SDRC, Nina Ghiselli tells her story and emphasizes the importance of student disability resources within schools.

It’s not just the Capitol Police

As the world watched from their televisions on January 6, we witnessed scenes unfold before our eyes that were, to many, unimaginable: supporters of President Trump swarmed the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, then proceeded to break in and

The San Jose State University Football Team Comes to Humboldt

On a day’s notice from administration, the SJSU football team spends a week and a half in Humboldt practicing because their county did not allow it. Students react to their presence on campus in the midst of a pandemic. Directed

Homelessness in Humboldt, CA

This is the first trailer of a homeless documentary created by HSU students. We have spent months filming and will continue to film throughout the next year. Follow the heartbreaking stories of the homeless community around Humboldt county and the

Thrifty Arcata

Taking a tour of the local thrift shops in Arcata during the COVID-19 pandemic. Directed and produced by Skylar Gaven.

House Plants Generate Peace and Meaning During the Pandemic

Three different people with the same love for plants! House plants have become quite popular these days especially since we’re all basically stuck inside during the pandemic. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but these beautiful green oxygen-makers provide more

Prop 22 represents political favoritism of money over workers’ rights

California’s passing of proposition 22 on Nov. 5 represents a frustrating history of workers’ rights being trampled by the overwhelming influence of greed in politics.  This proposition forces app-based workers to be classified as independent contractors, rather than employees. This

Remembering Evelyn Andrews 10 months after her passing

By Katelyn Dendas It has been 10 months since my friend, teammate and freshman year dorm mate, Evelyn Andrews, passed away. I don’t remember what the grief counselor said or what transpired after that Monday, but I do remember arriving

Protestors seek to defund HSUPD

Two local, activist organizations work together to stage a sit-in against Humboldt State’s police department.

Getting stuck on the Trump train

Writer Anthony Aragon details his experience of accidentally joining a pro-Trump car rally.

Justin Turner exposes the World Series to COVID-19

Justin Turner didn’t need to be the story in the wake of the Dodgers’ first World Series victory in 32 years. Instead here we are, wondering what sort of, if any, punishment Major League Baseball will decide to hand down

Four more years of fear

News Editor Carlos Holguin explains why he is worried about the next four years.

Dismal democracy

The Lumberjack editorial staff comments on America’s flawed electoral system As the world watches the United States 2020 election results, waiting for our pseudodemocratic process to churn out a new president, historically unprecedented voting methods misrepresents the reported Election Day

The Mario triple pack invokes a nostalgia attack

When I was a child, the first video game system I owned was a Nintendo 64. Among the games I played was Super Mario 64. I played it all the time and when I wasn’t playing it, I was lying

Women’s lacrosse drops their competitive season

Greta Roberts, president and player of Humboldt State University’s women’s lacrosse team, made the decision with her coach and teammates to cancel the upcoming spring season. The team decided that not being able to recruit in the fall would be

Dobby’s proposition opinions

Haven’t voted yet? Well, you’re running out of time. Here’s a quick rundown of California’s propositions on the ballot this year

Corporations buy out propositions

In a series of general and misleading advertisements, corporate backers of Propositions 22 and 23 show their grubby hands

CDOR continues virtually

The Campus and Community Dialogue On Race returns covering global justice for Black Lives.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Local food management practices of the Tolowa Dee-ni, Yurok and other indigenous peoples.

Humboldt State Admin attempts to discredit the Lumberjack

***A Lumberjack editorial represents both the majority opinion of the student newspaper’s editorial board, nine editors, as well as the overwhelming majority of Humboldt State University’s student body. Collectively, an editorial echos, embodies and advocates for community beliefs.*** Insensitive communications

Music of the Moment 6

21 Savage and Metro Boomin drop a classic with “Savage Mode II”

Spartans arrive at HSU despite campus concerns

***Editor’s note: SJSU football program was tested in congruence with Mountain West conference guidelines*** The Spartans have arrived and this time they’re not carrying spears or shields. Instead the San Jose State football team stepped onto the Humboldt State campus

Music of the Moment 5

After shooting Megan Thee Stallion, Tory Lanez cancels himself

Welcome to the Twilight Zone

Comparisons between episodes of the classic TV show The Twilight Zone and our own dismal reality

Music of the Moment 4

YoungBoy Never Broke Again dodges the sophomore slump with his new album “Top.”

Self-Care Cuts

Changing your hair to change your life

HSU Seaweed Farm sets sail

The first commercially-approved seaweed farm in California will be on the map.

Music of the Moment 3

For better or worse, Big Sean is likely gone for good.

More Layers, More Protection?

Humboldt State demands double masking on campus, does more layers equal more protection?

The Ethnic Studies Bill is a Blessing

Ethnic Studies will thankfully become mandatory for all California State University students – as it should be.

The Complex Interface of Humans and Wildfires

How fire suppression is a mixed bag in Humboldt County Every fire season, blankets of smoke roll over Humboldt County. Here on the coast, that’s as close to wildfires as some of us get. But our practice of fire suppression

Defund HSU’s Police Department

Incidents of racism from the former UPD Chief, past examples of excessive force from current officers and a shrinking university budget.

How Not To Be Bitten By A Kitten

Please prepare to be prey Congratulations, a baby feline has recently come into your life. If they’re anywhere from 2-18 months, they bite. They see you as prey. Because you are prey. You always have been. You always will be.

Graduating Into Uncharted Waters

HSU graduates attempt to navigate a world turned upside-down by COVID-19 In May, Humboldt State University graduated hundreds of students, as it does every year. Unlike past years, graduates didn’t get to shake hands with their respective dean and receive

HSU Cultural Center Budget Slashed

Associated Students leaves student body devastated after significant reductions in cultural center’s budget.

All aboard the plague ship

Unprecedented times are met with normalized behavior, HSU puts students and community members at higher risk after reopening campus and student housing.

Music of the Moment

The hip-hop community rallies behind the Black Lives Matter Movement

Inside the Immune System

How the body uses multiple levels of defense against foreign intruders

Catcalling Can’t Continue

Verbal harassment toward women is about control and the assertion of gender discrimination