Research from old-growth forests in Iran point out the importance of dead wood, an often-overlooked forest feature. “Dead wood is great habitat for wildlife, provides a sheltered environment for young seedlings, holds soil and moisture on the site, and stores carbon,” said Associate Professor Carolyn Copenheaver.

Copenheaver served on the graduate committee for Kiomars Sefidi, then a doctoral student at the University of Tehran, who conducted a study on dead wood at the university’s Kheyrud Experimental Forest. Their research appears in Natural Areas Journal.

Their research objectives were to characterize the volume of coarse and fine woody debris present in old-growth beech forests in the Iranian forest, compare the number and volume of different forms of coarse woody debris, and correlate the understory coarse woody debris volume to the overstory forest structure.

The researchers recorded diameter, height, and species of living trees; measured coarse woody debris, including snags, logs, and stumps; and noted degree of decay. Copenheaver reports that “almost 40 percent of the total volume of dead wood was fine woody debris — a class size that has received little attention” and is important to predicting fire behavior.

Read the full press release.