Silvicultural alternatives in a longleaf pine/wiregrass woodland in southwest Georgia: understory hardwood response to harvest-created gapsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Management of longleaf pine woodlands and savannas in areas that have multiple objectives including conservation of biodiversity is increasingly common on public and private lands, and various silvicultural approaches have been proposed to meet the diverse objectives. While considerable work has investigated how alternative silvicultural systems influence longleaf pine regeneration patterns, few studies document how competing understory hardwoods respond to the proposed silvicultural alternatives. We examined pine regeneration and understory hardwood response as part of a larger study in a mature longleaf pine forest with replicated blocks randomly assigned one of four silvicultural treatments: control (no cutting), single-tree selection, small-group selection, and large-group selection. Following harvest, understory woody (nonpine) plants increased their growth more than 3-fold due to decreased competition with the pine overstory in the gap-based approaches. This resulted in increased hardwood litter in the gaps, which subsequently resulted in fire feedbacks that increased the potential for perpetuating hardwood domination of gaps intended for pine regeneration.