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The Effect of Soil Scarification on Quercus Seedling Establishment Within Upland Stands of the Northern Cumberland Plateau

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Soil scarification has been shown to increase oak (Quercus spp.) seedling establishment on sites with gently sloping topography that provide ideal operational conditions for soil scarification equipment. However, oaks are also an important component of forests occupying physiographic regions where topography can be highly dissected and steeply sloped. This study investigated the effectiveness of soil scarification within steep, upland sites common to the Northern Cumberland Plateau. Following a large northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) acorn crop, soil scarification was performed along transects within five upland oak stands. Soil scarification was completed using a bulldozer mounted with a seven-tine root rake. Acorn inventories following treatment showed that scarified areas had a higher percentage of acorns within the mineral soil than nonscarified areas. Following one growing season, a significantly higher density of oak seedlings was observed within the scarified areas (11,666 seedlings ha−1) than in the nonscarified controls (3,933 seedlings ha−1). Examination of the relationships between litter depth, slope steepness, acorn abundance, and net oak seedling establishment revealed that acorn abundance and slope steepness had significant, but weak, positive relationships with oak seedling establishment. This study extended the geographic extent in which soil scarification has been shown to increase oak establishment and suggested that the range of slope steepness observed had little impact on the efficacy of the treatment.
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Keywords: midstory removal; oak regeneration; shelterwood; soil scarification

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-09-01

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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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