Long-term effects of alternative partial harvesting methods on the woody regeneration layer in high-elevation Quercus rubra forests of the southern Appalachian Mountains

Abstract

High-elevation Quercus rubra forests in the Appalachian Mountains represent a transition zone between temperate mixed-Quercus forests that dominate lower elevations  (<1350  m)  and  Picea-Abies  forests  at  high (>1530  m)  elevations.  Little information exists specific to the response to disturbance,  including  timber  harvesting, in these forests. In this study, we examined the long-term (22 years) effects of alternative regeneration methods – group selection harvests (GSH) and shelterwood with high (SWH; 9.0 m2/ha) and low (SWL; 5.0 m2/ ha) residual basal area, and undisturbed control (CON) – on the development of the regeneration layer in high- elevation  Q. rubra forests in the  Appalachian  Mountains.  Treatments  affected  the  density  of  the  regeneration layer (stems ha-1; SPH), but results varied by species group. Density of Q. rubra saplings (stems ≥ 3.8 cm dbh and <10.9  cm  dbh)  was  significantly  greater  in  GSH  (250  SPH),  SWH  (85  SPH),  and  SWL  (121 SPH)  than  CON  (0SPH). For shade-tolerant species, density averaged 1095 SPH in SWH and SWL and was significantly greater than in  CON.  Shade-tolerant  Acer  rubrum  was  the  most  abundant  species  in  the  sapling  layer  22  years  post-harvest. Survival  of  individuals  tagged  and  followed  over  time  was  unaffected  by  treatment,  however,  height of  Quercus seedlings was greatest in treatments with lower residual basal area (GSH and SWL). At Y22, the relatively low density of successfully regenerated Quercus stems in the regenerated stands suggests that additional treatments, nd/or prescribed burning, may be necessary to secure the continued recruitment these  high-elevation  Q.  rubra forests.

  • Citation: Keyser, T.L., Loftis, D.L. 2021. Long-term effects of alternative partial harvesting methods on the woody regeneration layer in high-elevation Quercus rubra forests of the southern Appalachian Mountains, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 482: 118869.
  • Posted Date: March 22, 2021
  • Modified Date: March 26, 2021
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