Effect of gap size on composition and structure of regeneration 19 years after harvest in a southeastern bottomland forest, USA


Following timber harvests in bottomland mixed-oak (Quercus L.) stands, desirable oak advance regeneration can be overgrown by shade-intolerant pioneer species. We investigated the effects of group selection opening size on composition of tree regeneration 19 years postharvest in an oak-dominated bottomland forest and compared results with earlier findings to evaluate development trends. In response to six opening sizes (7–40 m radii), we evaluated regeneration density and dominance of four tree species groups: conifers, hard mast, shade-intolerant hardwoods, and shade-tolerant hardwoods. Our objectives were to determine the optimum gap size for regenerating oaks and test the delayed oak dominance hypothesis, in which oaks slowly gain dominance as pioneer species undergo self-thinning. Opening size influenced conifer regeneration but minimally affected hardwoods. Hard mast species density was less than that of either intolerant or tolerant species regardless of opening size. Future stem density trends suggest increasing intolerant species and constant mast and tolerant species. Modeled future height trends suggest increasing mast species dominance over intolerant pioneers after 30 years. Our results suggest that gap-based silviculture can be used to regenerate bottomland hardwood stands with desirable species including oaks; larger gaps favor conifers but there was no optimum size to enhance oak regeneration

  • Citation: McNab, W. Henry; Kilgo, John C.; Blake, John I.; Zarnoch, Stanley J. 2021. Effect of gap size on composition and structure of regeneration 19 years after harvest in a southeastern bottomland forest, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 51(3): 380-392. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2020-0181.
  • Keywords: dominance hypothesis, group selection, opening size, Quercus, self-thinning
  • Posted Date: July 20, 2021
  • Modified Date: August 18, 2021
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