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Germination, Establishment, and Mortality of Naturally Seeded Southwestern Ponderosa Pine

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Information on the mortality factors affecting naturally seeded conifer seedlings is becoming increasingly important to forest managers for both economic and ecological reasons. Mortality factors affecting ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) seedlings immediately following natural germination and through the following year were monitored in Northern Arizona. The four major mortality factors in temporal order included the failure of roots to establish in the soil (27%), herbivory by lepidopteran larvae (28%), desiccation (30%), and winterkill (10%). These mortality factors were compared among seedlings germinating in three different overstory densities and an experimental water treatment. Seedlings that were experimentally watered experienced greater mortality than natural seedlings due to herbivory (40%), nearly as much mortality due to the failure of roots to establish in the soil (20%), less mortality due to winterkill (5%), and no mortality due to desiccation. The seedling mortality data through time were summarized using survivorship curves and life tables. Our results suggest that managers should consider using prescribed burns to decrease the percentage of seedlings that die from failure of their roots to reach mineral soil and from attack by lepidopteran larvae. West. J. Appl. For. 18(2):109–114.
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Keywords: Pinus ponderosa; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; mortality factors; natural regeneration; natural resource management; natural resources; seedling mortality

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ,

Publication date: 2003-04-01

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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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