Data for: Not just about the trees: Key role of mosaic-meadows in restoration of ponderosa pine ecosystems
This dataset includes understory plant cover by species in 1-m^2 quadrats, depth of organic horizon, canopy cover, and distance of plots from overstory trees for 330 quadrats across six ponderosa pine stands in Colorado. Five of our research sites were thinned between 2010 and 2013, and the sixth site, located on the Manitou Experimental Forest in the central Front Range, had not been treated since a heavy selective harvest of large-diameter ponderosa pine between 1880 and 1886. We measured understory conditions along 8 to 12 transects per stand in mosaic-meadows that were created or expanded by recent tree removal. We sampled mosaic-meadows at the Manitou Experimental Forest that contained stumps from selective harvesting in the 1880s. We sampled understory vegetation and abiotic conditions in 1-m^2 quadrats at 5-m increments along each transect, with 5-7 quadrats per transect. We made slight adjustments to the location of quadrats (+/- 2 m) to avoid highly disturbed skid trails or areas with >33% cover of rocks or heavy slash. Cover of understory vegetation was estimated by species unless vegetative characteristics were insufficient for species-level identification. We followed the PLANTS database (USDA NRCS 2015) for nomenclature. We measured depth of the O horizon at nine evenly spaced locations within each quadrat, and we estimated canopy cover above each quadrat using a spherical densitometer in the four cardinal directions. Time constraints prohibited us from sampling O-horizon depth and canopy cover at UncMesas. We measured the distance from each quadrat to the bole of the nearest overstory tree (dbh ≥10 cm). We focused on distance from overstory trees rather than a neighborhood index (e.g., Hegyi index) because distance is easier to interpret and translate into management implications than derived variables that combine distance and diameter.