Slash pine regeneration and groundcover responses following harvesting in hydric flatwoodsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
As part of a long term project assessing different strategies for converting slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantations to uneven-aged, multifunctional forests, we evaluated the effects of five different harvest methods (group selection, shelterwood, third row thin, ‘cut 2 leave 3’ row thin, and staggered third row thin) on natural regeneration of slash pine and groundcover one growing season following harvesting. While shelterwood and group selection harvests resulted in highest total number of slash pine seedlings of any size (9708 and 9132 seedlings/ha), group selection and ‘cut 2 leave 3’ row thinning had the highest number of large sized seedlings (408 and 340 seedlings greater than 60 cm). Quick height growth of slash pine regeneration will be a critical component of the stand conversion process, particularly where prescribed fire may be used for vegetation control. Although, the harvest treatments resulted in considerable decreases in shrub cover as a result of the mechanical operations, the shrub component still dominated ground cover in all of the treatments after one growing season. Shelterwood treatment had the least shrubs (approximately 12 percent) and had the highest proportion of graminoids (approximately 25 percent of total groundcover) compared to other harvest treatments. Total species richness varied from 21 genera in uncut control to 40 genera in staggered third row thin treatment. The most appropriate harvesting regime for converting plantations may be dependent on prioritizing objectives for restoring both forest structure in addition to groundcover diversity.