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


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.


Oak Quercus Small mammals Acorn weevils Curculio Acorn removal 



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.


  1. Abrams M (2003) Where has all the white oak gone? Bioscience 53:927–939CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Andersson C (1992) The effect of weevil and fungal attacks on the germination of Quercus robur acorns. For Ecol Manag 50:247–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnett R (1977) The effect of burial by squirrels on germination and survival of oak and hickory nuts. Am Midl Nat 98:319–330CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bellocq MI, Jones C, Dey DC, Turgeon JJ (2005) Does the shelterwood method to regenerate oak forests affect acorn production and predation? For Ecol Manag 205:311–323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brooks S, Gelman A (1998) General methods for monitoring convergence of iterative simulations. J Comput Graph Stat 7:434–455Google Scholar
  6. Carman S (2013) Indiana forest management history and practices. In: Swihart RK, Saunders M, Kalb RA, Haulton GS, Michler CH (eds) The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: a Framework for Studying Responses to Forest Management. USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Newtown Square, PA, pp 12–23Google Scholar
  7. Cecich R, Sullivan N (1999) Influence of weather at time of pollination on acorn production of Quercus alba and Quercus velutina. Can J For Res 29:1817–1823CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Daniel T, Helms J, Baker F (1979) Principles of silviculture. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  9. Dey DC (2002) The ecological basis for oak silviculture in eastern North America. In: McShea W, Healy W (eds) Oak Forest Ecosystems: Ecology and Management for Wildlife. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp 60–79Google Scholar
  10. Dey DC, Jacobs D, McNabb K, Miller G, Baldwin V, Foster G (2008) Artificial regeneration of major oak (Quercus) species in the eastern United States—a review of the literature. For Sci 54:77–106Google Scholar
  11. Dixon MD, Johnson WC, Adkisson CS (1997) Effects of weevil larvae on acorn use by blue jays. Oecologia 111:201–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Downs A, McQuilkin W (1944) Seed production of southern Appalachian oaks. J For 42:913–920Google Scholar
  13. Ellison AM, Bank M, Clinton B et al (2005) Loss of foundation species: consequences for the structure and dynamics of forested ecosystems. Front Ecol Environ 3:479–486CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fralish J (2004) The keystone role of oak and hickory in the central hardwood forest. In: Spetich MA (ed) Upland Oak Ecology Symposium. USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC, pp 78–87Google Scholar
  15. Gibson L (1972) Insects that damage white oak acorns. Research paper NE-220. USDA Forest Service Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Upper Darby, PAGoogle Scholar
  16. Gibson L (1982) Insects that damage northern red oak acorns. Research paper NE-492. USDA Forest Service Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Upper Darby, PAGoogle Scholar
  17. Govindan BN, Kéry M, Swihart RK (2012) Host selection and responses to forest fragmentation in acorn weevils: inferences from dynamic occupancy models. Oikos 121:623–633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Greenberg CH (2000) Individual variation in acorn production by five species of southern Appalachian oaks. For Ecol Manag 132:199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gribko L (1995) The effect of acorn insects on the establishment and vigor of northern red oak seedlings in north-central West Virginia. In: Proceedings of the 10th Central Hardwood Forest Conference, pp 430–441Google Scholar
  20. Hadj-Chikh L, Steele M, Smallwood P (1996) Caching decisions by grey squirrels: a test of the handling time and perishability hypotheses. Anim Behav 52:941–948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harpole DN, Haas CA (1999) Effects of seven silvicultural treatments on terrestrial salamanders. For Ecol Manag 114:349–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Healy W (1997) Thinning New England oak stands to enhance acorn production. North J Appl For 14:152–156Google Scholar
  23. Indiana Department of Natural Resources (1984) Indiana forest soils handbook. Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, Indianapolis, INGoogle Scholar
  24. Janzen D (1971) Seed predation by animals. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 2:465–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Jenkins MA, Parker GR (1998) Composition and diversity of woody vegetation in silvicultural openings of southern Indiana forests. For Ecol Manag 109:57–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Johnson P (1994) How to manage oak forests for acorn production. Technical Brief TB-NC-1. USDA Forest Service North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, MNGoogle Scholar
  27. Kalb RA, Mycroft C (2013) The hardwood ecosystem experiment: goals, design, and implementation. In: Swihart RK, Saunders M, Kalb RA, Haulton GS, Michler CH (eds) The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: a Framework for Studying Responses to Forest Management. USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Newtown Square, PA, pp 36–59Google Scholar
  28. Kellner KF, Urban NA, Swihart RK (2013) Short-term responses of small mammals to timber harvest in the US central hardwood forest region. J Wildl Manag 77:1650–1663CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kirkland G (1990) Patterns of initial small mammal community change after clearcutting of temperate North American forests. Oikos 59:313–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Koenig W, Knops J (2002) The behavioral ecology of masting in oaks. In: McShea W, Healy W (eds) Oak Forest Ecosystems: Ecology and Management for Wildlife. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD, pp 129–148Google Scholar
  31. Liebhold A, Sork V, Peltonen M (2004) Within-population spatial synchrony in mast seeding of North American oaks. Oikos 104:156–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Loftis D (1990) A shelterwood method for regenerating red oak in the Southern Appalachians. For Sci 36:917–929Google Scholar
  33. Lombardo JA, McCarthy BC (2008) Silvicultural treatment effects on oak seed production and predation by acorn weevils in southeastern Ohio. For Ecol Manag 255:2566–2576CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Lombardo JA, McCarthy BC (2009) Seed germination and seedling vigor of weevil-damaged acorns of red oak. Can J For Res 39:1600–1605CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lopez-Barrera F, Newton A, Manson R (2005) Edge effects in a tropical montane forest mosaic: experimental tests of post-dispersal acorn removal. Ecol Res 20:31–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Maeto K, Ozaki K (2003) Prolonged diapause of specialist seed-feeders makes predator satiation unstable in masting of Quercus crispula. Oecologia 137:392–398PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Marquis D, Eckert P, Roach B (1976) Acorn weevils, rodents, and deer all contribute to oak-regeneration difficulties in Pennsylvania. Research Paper NE-356. USDA Forest Service Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Upper Darby, PAGoogle Scholar
  38. McNab W, Avers P (1994) Ecological subregions of the United States: section descriptions. Administrative Publication WO-WSA-5. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  39. McShea WJ, Schwede G (1993) Variable acorn crops: responses of white-tailed deer and other mast consumers. J Mammal 74:999–1006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. McShea WJ, Healy WM, Devers P, Fearer TM, Koch FH, Stauffer D, Waldon J (2007) Forestry matters: decline of oaks will impact wildlife in hardwood forests. J Wildl Manag 71:1717–1728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Menu F (1993) Strategies of emergence in the chestnut weevil Curculio elephas (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Oecologia 96:383–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Menu F, Debouzie D (1993) Coin-flipping plasticity and prolonged diapause in insects: example of the chestnut weevil Curculio elephas (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Oecologia 93:367–373CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Minckler L, Woerheide J, Schlesinger R (1973) Light, soil moisture, and tree reproduction in hardwood forest openings. Research Paper NC-89. USDA Forest Service North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, MNGoogle Scholar
  44. Moore JE, Swihart RK (2008) Factors affecting the relationship between seed removal and seed mortality. Can J Zool 86:378–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Morrissey RC, Jacobs DF, Seifert JR, Fischer BC, Kershaw JA (2008) Competitive success of natural oak regeneration in clearcuts during the stem exclusion stage. Can J For Res 38:1419–1430CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pérez-Ramos IM, Marañón T (2008) Factors affecting post-dispersal seed predation in two coexisting oak species: Microhabitat, burial and exclusion of large herbivores. For Ecol Manag 255:3506–3514CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Perry R, Thill R, Tappe P, Peitz D (2004) Initial response of individual soft mast-producing plants to different forest regeneration methods in the Ouachita Mountains. In: Guldin J (ed) Ouachita and Ozark Mountains Symposium: Ecosystem Management Research. USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC, pp 60–70Google Scholar
  48. Reynolds-Hogland MJ, Mitchell MS, Powell RA (2006) Spatio-temporal availability of soft mast in clearcuts in the Southern Appalachians. For Ecol Manag 237:103–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Ricca M, Weckerly F, Semlitsch R (1996) Effects of soil moisture and temperature on overwintering survival of Curculio larvae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Am Midl Nat 136:203–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Riccardi C, McCarthy BC, Long R (2004) Oak seed production, weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) populations, and predation rates in mixed-oak forests of south east Ohio. In: Proceedings of the 14th Central Hardwoods Forest Conference. USDA Forest Service Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, pp. 10–21Google Scholar
  51. Ritter E, Dalsgaard L, Einhorn KS (2005) Light, temperature and soil moisture regimes following gap formation in a semi-natural beech-dominated forest in Denmark. For Ecol Manag 206:15–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sander IL, Johnson PS, Rogers R (1984) Evaluating oak advance reproduction in the Missouri Ozarks. Research Paper NC-251. USDA Forest Service North Central Forest Experiment Station, St. Paul, MNGoogle Scholar
  53. Saunders M, Arseneault J (2013) Pre-treatment analysis of woody vegetation composition and structure on the hardwood ecosystem experiment research units. In: Swihart RK, Saunders M, Kalb RA, Haulton GS, Michler CH (eds) The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment: a Framework for Studying Responses to Forest Management. USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station, Newtown Square, PA, pp 96–125Google Scholar
  54. Schlesinger R, Sander IL, Davidson KR (1993) Oak regeneration potential increased by shelterwood treatments. North J Appl For 10:149–153Google Scholar
  55. Siegel S, Castellan NJ (1988) Nonparametric statistics for the behavioral sciences. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  56. Silvertown JW (1980) The evolutionary ecology of mast seeding in trees. Biol J Linn Soc 14:235–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Smallwood P, Steele M, Faeth S (2001) The ultimate basis of the caching preferences of rodents, and the oak-dispersal syndrome: tannins, insects, and seed germination. Am Zool 41:840–851CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sork V, Bramble J, Sexton O (1993) Ecology of mast-fruiting in three species of North American deciduous oaks. Ecology 74:528–541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Spiegelhalter D, Thomas A, Best N, Lunn D (2003) WinBUGS user manual. MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  60. Steele MA, Manierre S, Genna T, Contreras TA, Smallwood PD, Pereira ME (2006) The innate basis of food-hoarding decisions in grey squirrels: evidence for behavioural adaptations to the oaks. Anim Behav 71:155–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Sturtz S, Ligges U, Gelman A (2005) R2WinBUGS : a package for running WinBUGS. J Stat Soft 12:1–16Google Scholar
  62. Vander Wall SB, Kuhn K, Beck M (2005) Seed removal, seed predation, and secondary dispersal. Ecology 86:801–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Verme L (1953) Production and utilization of acorns in Clinton County, Michigan. Dissertation, Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied SciencesGoogle Scholar
  64. Zheng D, Chen J, Song B, Xu M, Sneed P, Jensen R (2000) Effects of silvicultural treatments on summer forest microclimate in southeastern Missouri Ozarks. Clim Res 15:45–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Zollner P, Crane K (2003) Influence of canopy closure and shrub coverage on travel along coarse woody debris by eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus). Am Midl Nat 150:151–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations