Drought response of upland oak (Quercus L.) species in Appalachian hardwood forests of the southeastern USA
Key message In Appalachian hardwood forests, density, stem size, and productivity affected growth during
drought for red oak, but not white oak species. Minor effects of density suggest that a single low thinning does
little to promote drought resilience for oaks in the region.
Context Management is increasingly focused on promoting resilience to disturbance. Because stand density can modulate climate-growth relationships, thinning may be an adaptation strategy that promotes resistance/resilience to drought.
Aims We examined how density, manipulated via thinning, stem size, and site productivity, influences the drought response of northern red, black, chestnut, and white oak.
Methods We modeled the role of density, stem size, and site productivity on resistance, recovery, and resilience during two
Results Chestnut and white oak displayed greater resistance, recovery, and/or resilience than did northern red and black oak. For black oak, density and stem size negatively affected resistance during the first and second drought, respectively. Density, stem size, and site productivity had no effect on chestnut and white oak.
Conclusion The lack of sensitivity of chestnut and white oak to the ranges of density, stem size, and site productivity observed
in this study and generally better resistance, recovery, and resilience suggests that management focused on the maintenance
of these species, as opposed to a single silvicultural low thinning, may be a possible strategy for sustaining the growth and productivity of oak species in Appalachian hardwood stands. Drought response as affected by alternative thinning interventions should be evaluated.