Seedling Reproduction Established with Soil Scarification within an Oak Overwood after Overstory Removal

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We report on the density and height of seedling reproduction established with and without soil scarification in a mixed-oak two-stage shelterwood after overstory removal. In 1993, shallow soil scarification was conducted to bury recently disseminated northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) acorns collected from another site and disrupt red maple (Acer rubrum L.) seedling reproduction that dominated the understory. The shelterwood overstory was removed in the winter of 1997/1998. The following spring, seedling density decreased in response to harvest activities. However, one growing season after overstory removal, seedling density for most species or species groups had recovered to preharvest levels. At that time (5 years after soil scarification), scarified plots had 16 times more northern red oak (35,119 ha−1), 50% fewer (8,076 ha−1) red maple, and 37% more total (55,432 ha−1) seedlings compared to undisturbed control plots. Other species of oak, which generally lacked mast at the time of scarification, had significantly reduced density (59% less, at 4,405 ha−1), suggesting that scarification treatments should coincide with viable mast or net loss of oak seedlings may result. Five growing seasons after treatment, the greatest proportions of seedlings were in the tallest two height classes (33–122 cm and >122 cm) and were northern red oak. In summary, 5 years after incorporating viable mast into the soil with shallow scarification within a mixed-oak shelterwood and 1 year after overstory removal, scarified areas had more advance reproduction dominated by large and vigorously growing oak seedlings, while undisturbed areas had lower seedling density of primarily large red maple.

Keywords: Oak regeneration; Quercus; northern red oak, red maple; scarification

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forestry Southern Illinois University Carbondale IL 62901-4411 2: Rocky Mountain Research Station, Moscow Forestry Sciences Laboratory USDA Forest Service 1221 S. Main Street Moscow ID 83843

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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