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      Biosphere Reserve Information

United States of America


Photo: Ray Shearer
  General Description   The Coram Biosphere Reserve and Experimental Forest is located on the Flathead National Forest near Glacier National Park, 45 km east of Kalispell (Montana). It is an outdoor laboratory, established in 1933 to provide basic information needed to manage western larch (Larix occidentalis) forests. Research results point the way to proper application of silvicultural practices to achieve ecosystem management goals and enhance biodiversity of species. Western larch and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) are the most common of 10 conifer species. Many trees are over 300 years old with a few larch trees over 500 years old. A 1992 Larix symposium culminated in the establishment of the International Larix Arboretum at Coram Experimental Forest Headquarters. It includes most of the world's Larix species.
Coram is not inhabited and there are no major economic activities carried out in order not to interfere with the long-term research objectives of the area, which has no zonation scheme. There is some harvesting of wild berries, game hunting and some recreational activities such as hiking and cross-country skiing.
A curriculum was developed to assist science teachers in local schools to use Coram
Experimental Forest as an outdoor classroom. A local high school science class monitors water quality on a major stream originating in the area. University silviculture classes annually visit this area to supplement classroom instruction with examples of 50 years of continuous research.
  Major ecosystem type   Mixed mountain and highland systems
  Major habitats & land cover types   Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in association with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas-fir), Abies lasiocarpa (subalpine fir), and Picea (spruce) (P. engelmannii [Engelmann] at higher elevations, and hybrids of Engelmann and P. glauca [white spruce] at lower elevations); associations of Pinus contorta (lodgepole pine), western white pine, Tsuga heterophylla (western hemlock), and western redcedar; larch and P. ponderosa (ponderosa pine) on dry, lower-elevation ridges with shallow soil; occasional individual A. grandis (grand fir) trees on warm, moist sites; Taxus brevifolia (Pacific yew) and Juniperus communis (common juniper) in shrub form; predominant hardwood trees are Betula papyrifera (paper birch), Populus trichocarpa (black cottonwood), and P. tremuloides (quaking aspen); forest research plots
  Location   4822' to 4826'N; 11358' to 11400'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   3,019
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +1,067 to +1,920
  Year designated   1976
  Administrative authorities   Coram Experimental Forest; U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
  Brief description   Hydrology (monitoring is done at two stream parshall flumes)
Nutrient cycling
Plant nutrition
Climate (monitoring is done at five microclimatic stations)
Plant ecology and succession in young and old growth forest
Ecology and management of Larix
Cone and seed development and dispersal
Natural and artificial regeneration after harvest cuttings
Effects of stand culture treatment on forest development
Insect and disease interactions
Effects of the amount of wood harvest on site productivity
Influence of silvicultural practices on watershed, esthetics, and wildlife values
Publication by Raymond C. Shearer and Madelyn M. Kempf (1999): Coram Experimental Forest: 50 Years of Research in a Western Larch Forest (
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Climate, hydrology, monitoring/methodologies, nutrients.
  Biodiversity   Ecology, forest systems, invertebrates/insects/spiders, pests/diseases, phytosociology/succession, plants, productivity.
  Socio-economic   Forestry, people-nature relations/man/nature.
  Integrated monitoring   Impact and risk studies/Environmental impact, integrated studies/interdisciplinaty, management issues, watershed studies/monitoring.
  Contact address   Jack A. Schmidt
Rocky Mountain Research Station
800 East Beckwith - P.O. Box 8089
59807 Missoula, Montana
United States of America
  Telephone   (1.406) 542 4152
  Fax   (1.406) 543 2663
  Web site  
  Contact address   Raymond C. Shearer
Rocky Mountain Research Station
800 East Beckwith - P.O. Box 8089
59807 Missoula, Montana
United States of America
  Telephone   (1.406) 542 4170
  Fax   (1.406) 543 2663
  Web site  

Last updated: 18/02/2002

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