Eighty-Year Development of Northern Red Oak After Partial Cutting in a Mixed-Species Wisconsin Forest

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The inadequacy of oak regeneration in undisturbed oak stands and after various types of cutting is a serious silvicultural problem in much of eastern North America. In this study, the stand history of a recently cut 0.6 ha plot in an old-growth, mixed-species forest dominated by sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) was investigated to determine the origin of the red oak component and its competitive relationships with associated species. Diameter and age distributions indicate that the red oak component was even-aged and 60-100 years younger than many of the overstory maples, which were uneven-aged. Sixty-three percent of the stumps showed release from suppression about 1897, suggesting a heavy partial cutting at that time. The oaks did not germinate following the disturbance but were present as advance regeneration prior to that event. The oak advance regeneration averaged 2.9 cm in stem diameter at a height of 50 cm, compared to 18.9 cm for sugar maple. Most of the ultimately successful oaks developed under small gaps that did not exceed 150 m². Despite the initial disadvantage in stem size and the small size of the gaps, 28 red oaks/ha survived to become overstory trees, achieving an average dbh of 38 cm in 1975. Forest Sci. 29:371-383.

Keywords: Acer saccharum; Quercus rubra; age structure; canopy gaps; diameter distributions; disturbance effects; oak regeneration

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Assistant Professor, Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706

Publication date: June 1, 1983

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