, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 1-10

Variation in understory structure and plant species diversity influenced by silvicultural treatments among 21- to 26-year-old Picea glehnii plantations

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We investigated effects of silvicultural treatments (planting and subsequent treatments) on understory structure and plant species diversity in managed Picea glehnii plantations (21–26 years old) in northern Japan. We evaluated the importance of each treatment (machinery site preparation, planting, weeding, and thinning) in 19 plantations, with considerable variation among treatments overall. The understory had 98 vascular plant species; the most dominant species was a dwarf bamboo Sasa senanensis, followed by tree species Abies sachalinensis and Betula ermanii. Multiple regression analyses showed that thinning negatively influenced plant species diversity. Planting density showed a strong positive correlation with density of seedlings (height <20 cm), but few independent variables were correlated with density of saplings (height ≥20 cm and diameter at breast height <1 cm). The negative effect of thinning and the positive effect of planting density seem to be related to the existence or reinitiation of dense cover of Sasa senanensis. We present possible mechanisms of response to treatments to generalize the results. We then suggest ways to improve current treatments to meet the goals of wood production and biodiversity conservation in the region.