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Oak Ecosystem Management Considerations for Central Hardwoods Stands Arising from Silvicultural Clearcutting

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Silvicultural clearcutting was widely used during the late 20th century to regenerate stands on upland sites and achieve timber production objectives within the central hardwood region. As these even-aged stands develop, silvicultural guidelines are needed to address newer management objectives emphasizing oak ecosystem maintenance. The US Forest Service Common Stand Exam procedure (Common Stand Exam Users Guide, 2003, Ver. 1.5.1, US Forest Service, Washington, DC, 87 p.) was modified to assess stand stocking, composition, oak (Quercus) competitive status, and other emerging management concerns. A total of 74 randomly selected upland stands that had been silviculturally clearcut between 1980 and 1990 were sampled across the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois. Maples (Acer spp.) and yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) predominated across all landscape positions 15–26 years after stand initiation. Oak (Quercus spp.) trees per acre was related to landscape position and averaged less than 50 trees/ac on the more productive lower slope positions and north aspects. However, when yellow-poplar was present, oaks were in a competitively inferior canopy position regardless of slope position or aspect. Our results show that for sustaining oak ecosystems in this region, management interventions favoring oaks should focus on the most productive sites, where crop tree release would reduce yellow-poplar interference with a sparse oak resource, as well as on less productive sites, where thinning to reduce stocking may be needed to maintain stand health.

Keywords: Quercus; competition; forest stand development; oak–hickory forest type; tree species composition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-12-01

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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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