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Evaluations of Plastic Mesh Tubes for Protecting Conifer Seedlings from Pocket Gophers in Three Western States

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The efficacy of plastic mesh tubes for protecting conifer seedlings from pocket gopher damage was evaluated on three national forest lands in three states. In each area, cohorts of 640 protected seedlings and 640 unprotected seedlings (3,840 total) were individually monitored for damage, survival, and growth twice each summer for 5 yr after planting. Substantial differences were found between protected and unprotected seedlings for time until occurrence of damage, survival time, proportion damaged and proportion surviving, as well as differences in growth. Over the three forest study sites, the proportion of unprotected seedlings damaged ranged from 60-89%, whereas the proportion of protected seedlings damaged after 5 yr ranged from 18-27%. The proportion of unprotected seedlings that died of gopher damage over 5 yr ranged from 46-64%, versus 1-19% for protected seedlings. Height growth was 25% greater for protected seedlings. Even when only undamaged seedlings were considered, protected seedlings exhibited superior height growth, possibly due to a more favorable microclimate provided by the tubes. These results were reflected in the higher and more uniform stocking rates for protected seedlings. West. J. Appl. For. 14(2):86-90.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: USDA/APHIS, National Wildlife Research Center, 9701 Blomberg St. SW, Olympia, WA 8512-9147

Publication date: 1999-04-01

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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 Western Journal of Applied Forestry covers the western United States, including Alaska, and western Canada; WJAF will also consider manuscripts reporting research in northern Mexico that has potential application in the southwestern United States.
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