Restoring Riparian Forests in the Missouri Ozarks
Restoring the function of riparian forest ecosystems has become a primary objective of many land management agencies throughout the central hardwood region, and consequently, much emphasis has been placed on planting native hardwood tree species in former bottomland agricultural fields. However, there is little information providing successful restoration techniques in old-field riparian ecosystems, especially in the Ozark highlands ecoregion of Missouri. Objectives of this study were to examine the efficacy of two herbicide and three cover-crop vegetation management treatments on the (1) composition and density of competing vegetation, (2) survival and height growth of planted seedlings of 13 native bottomland tree species, and (3) the density and composition of natural reproduction colonizing three old-field riparian sites in the Missouri Ozarks. Overall, we found selection of tree species was a more important determinant of afforestation success (i.e., high survival and height growth) than the type of vegetation management used during establishment. Planting bareroot stock is an important strategy for establishing hardmast species because there is little evidence that they will colonize naturally very quickly following abandonment of tall fescue pastures in Ozark bottomlands.
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