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Residual Densities Affect Growth of Overstory Trees and Planted Douglas-Fir, Western Hemlock, and Western Redcedar: Results from the First Decade

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In recent years, interest has increased in silvicultural systems and harvest cuts that retain partial overstories, but there are few data available on the growth of the understory trees in such stands. We studied the response of overstory trees and underplanted seedlings, Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), and western redcedar (Thuja plicata), to a range of residual overstory densities. Forty to 70-year-old Douglas-fir stands in western Washington were harvested, leaving retention levels of 0, 8, 16, 24, 32, and 40% of full stocking. The 9-year response of the understory seedlings was species-dependent with Douglas-fir the largest in diameter (mean diameter 6.4 cm and mean height 3.8 m), western hemlock the tallest (mean diameter 5.5 cm and mean height 5.4 m), and redcedar the smallest (mean diameter 1.5 cm and mean height 1.5 m), in part because it was heavily browsed. Douglas-fir and western redcedar showed the greatest growth in the lowest retention levels (0 and 8%), and western hemlock responded best at the middle retention levels (8 and 16%).
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Keywords: Pseudotsuga menziesii; Thuja plicata; Tsuga heterophylla; overstory retention; regeneration

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2013-07-01

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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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