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New Forests

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 265–281 | Cite as

Effects of silvicultural disturbance on acorn infestation and removal

  • Kenneth F. KellnerEmail author
  • Jeffery K. Riegel
  • Robert K. Swihart
Article

Abstract

Oak (Quercus spp.) regeneration is an important forest management goal in the central hardwood forest region of the United States. Silvicultural methods that target oak regeneration, such as the creation of canopy openings and removal of shade-tolerant midstory trees, are complicated by the impact of pre- and post-dispersal predators of oak acorns like acorn weevils (Curculio spp.) and granivorous small mammals. Understanding the effects of forest disturbance created by silviculture on these predators is important to promote successful oak regeneration. We conducted a 6-year study of acorn production, weevil infestation, and acorn removal at 113 black (Q. velutina) and white oak (Q. alba) trees impacted by three types of silvicultural treatments: adjacent to harvest openings, midstory removal (first-stage shelterwood harvest), and control (no harvest) in south-central Indiana, USA. We observed highly variable acorn production across years, but minimal impact of silvicultural treatments. Levels of weevil infestation and acorn removal by small mammal seed predators also varied greatly, and predation pressure was highest in years when acorns were scarce. Weevil infestation was reduced following midstory removal in shelterwood harvests, but probability of acorn removal by small mammals was unchanged following harvest. Damaged, germinated, and weevil-infested acorns were less likely to be removed by seed predators, suggesting additive effects of pre- and post-dispersal predators. This study emphasizes the importance of considering acorn predators in oak regeneration silviculture, and timing harvests to follow large acorn crops in order to reduce predation pressure and generate a high number of seedlings.

Keywords

Oak Quercus Small mammals Acorn weevils Curculio Acorn removal 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Rebecca Kalb and Cortney Mycroft were instrumental in coordinating this study. Kaylee DeCosta, Rita Blythe, and Jeremiah Jackson helped with data collection. Andrew Meier, Nate Lichti, Byju Govindan, Mekala Sundaram, Harmony Dalgleish, and two anonymous reviewers provided helpful comments on the manuscript. This paper is a contribution of the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment, a partnership of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Purdue University, Ball State University, Indiana State University, Drake University, Indiana University-Pennsylvania, Indiana University, and the Nature Conservancy. Funding for the project was provided by the Indiana Division of Forestry, the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University, and the Purdue University Graduate School.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth F. Kellner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeffery K. Riegel
    • 1
  • Robert K. Swihart
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Natural ResourcesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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