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Forecasting Long-Term Acorn Production with and without Oak Decline Using Forest Inventory Data

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Acorns are important as wildlife food and for oak regeneration, but production is highly variable, posing a challenge to forest managers targeting acorn production levels. Forest managers need tools to predict acorn production capability tailored to individual landscapes and forest management scenarios, adjusting for oak mortality and stand development over time. We implemented published predictive models of average annual acorn production by five oak species common to the eastern United States in the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS) and used forest inventory data to estimate long-term acorn production on the Bent Creek Experimental Forest watershed, with and without oak decline. Under a no-management scenario, simulations forecasted a 58% increase in average annual acorn production by 2062 without oak decline but a 17% decrease with oak decline. Forecasts were influenced by the initial abundance and basal area of different oak species on the landscape and stand dynamics over time. Simulations indicated that heavy oak mortality with regeneration failure could substantially affect acorn production over the long term by reducing the proportion of mature canopy oaks and relative abundance of oak species. FVS ACORN provides a powerful tool for long-term acorn production planning that can be tailored to individual landscapes and forest management scenarios to predict average annual number and mass of acorns.
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Keywords: Forest Vegetation Simulator; acorn; hard mast; oak decline; upland hardwood forest

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2014-04-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2016 Impact Factor: 1.782 (Rank 17/64 in forestry)

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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