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Do chestnut, northern red, and white oak germinant seedlings respond similarly to light treatments? Growth and biomass

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Abstract:

Northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) seedling growth has been extensively studied. White oak (Quercus alba L.) and chestnut oak (Quercus prinus L.), however, are far less investigated despite their importance among upland oak species in eastern North American forests. We characterized white and chestnut oak seedling response to light and available soil nutrients while using northern red oak as a benchmark. Germinants were grown within one of three shade treatments (25%, 18%, and 6% of full sun) in one of two native forest soil mixes over two growing seasons. Leaf area, shoot mass, and root mass of all three species showed positive growth responses to increasing light. Growth and biomass were higher for all species grown in the more nutrient-rich forest soil, but chestnut oak displayed the greatest positive responses to the higher nutrient levels. White oak seedlings were the slowest growers and demonstrated the most root-centered growth, with root to shoot ratios almost twice that of either chestnut or northern red oak seedlings. The oak species evaluated here responded differently to changes in resource availability. Our study demonstrates the differential response of upland oaks to low light and nutrients. These differences need consideration when developing oak management prescriptions for specific oaks.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/x11-124

Affiliations: 1: Northern Research Station, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture, 359 Main Road, Delaware, OH 43015, USA. 2: Northern Research Station, Forest Service, US Department of Agriculture, 180 Canfield Street, Morgantown, WV 26505, USA.

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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