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Survival and competitiveness of Quercus rubra regeneration associated with planting stocktype and harvest opening intensity


Successful regeneration of northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) on productive sites is problematic in eastern North American forests. Natural and artificial regeneration often cannot compete with fast-growing, shade intolerant species such as yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.). This study examines 5-year survival, growth, and competitive ability of planted northern red oak seedlings in various group selection harvest sizes in south-central Indiana, USA. Seedling stocktypes consisted of high (BHD; 75 seedlings m−2) and low (BLD; 21 seedlings m−2) nursery-bed-density bareroot seedlings, and small (CS; 11.4 L) and large (CL; 18.9 L) container seedlings. Group selection openings included large (0.400 ha), medium (0.100 ha), and small (0.024 ha) circular gaps in four stands. Larger stocktypes and gap sizes improved seedling height, diameter, and growth; ANOVA indicated only gap size was significant for seedling survival. Logistic regression showed survival was positively correlated to diameter at year 1, and aspect, gap size, and stocktype were significant predictors of survival. Our data indicated no differences in density of natural regeneration among gap sizes, although trends suggest greater numbers of bigger competitors in larger gaps sizes. Yellow-poplar regeneration was the tallest competitor of more than 50% of all northern red oak seedlings. Competitive status of seedlings after 5 years differed only by stocktype, with large container stock in a better competitive position than bareroot stock. However, less than 20% of seedlings in all stocktypes in each gap treatment were considered competitive (i.e., ≥80% of the height of tallest competitor) against their tallest competitor. The use of larger planting stock may offer greater opportunities for successfully regenerating northern red oak seedlings on productive sites but likely would have to be accompanied by treatments to reduce woody competition.

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This study was supported by the Hardwood Forestry Fund, the Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, and the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources at Purdue University. The authors thank Don Carlson and Amy Ross-Davis for technical assistance. Constructive comments from Dr. Carole Lembi and two anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Douglass F. Jacobs.

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Morrissey, R.C., Jacobs, D.F., Davis, A.S. et al. Survival and competitiveness of Quercus rubra regeneration associated with planting stocktype and harvest opening intensity. New Forests 40, 273–287 (2010).

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  • Group selection harvest
  • Northern red oak
  • Competitive capacity
  • Yellow-poplar
  • Container seedlings