Publication Details

Predicting the height growth of oak species (Quercus) reproduction over a 23-year period following clearcutting

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Travis Swaim, J.; Dey, Daniel C.; Saunders, Michael R.; Weigel, Dale R.; Thornton, Christopher D.; Kabrick, John M.; Jenkins, Michael A.

Year Published

2016

Publication

Forest Ecology and Management. 364: 101-112.

Abstract

We resampled plots from a repeated measures study implemented on the Hoosier National Forest (HNF) in southern Indiana in 1988 to investigate the influence of site and seedling physical attributes on height growth and establishment success of oak species (Quercus spp.) reproduction in stands regenerated by the clearcut method. Before harvest, an array of physical attributes were documented for individual stems of advance reproduction. Across all surveys, the same characteristics were remeasured in years 6, 12, and 23 for all reproduction types (advance reproduction, stump sprouts, and new seedlings). In order to characterize topo-edaphic conditions, soil samples were collected and analyzed in 2011, and slope aspect, slope percent, and slope position were measured in the field. Random Forest (RF) analysis was used to determine the best physical and environmental predictors of height growth for oak species and their competitors in developing stands. Overall, advance reproduction of oak species fared poorly following harvests. Sprout-origin oak stems proved stronger competitors in developing stands, although their abundance relative to competing species was quite low. Advance and sprout origin maple (Acer spp.) stems, along with new seedlings of black cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.) and yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.), quickly overtopped oak advance reproduction and established dominance in the developing canopy. The height of stems during prior sampling periods was the best overall predictor of stem height in subsequent sampling periods. Species was also an important predictor of stem height. Comparatively, environmental variables were poor predictors of height growth of individual stems throughout the study, although more mesic aspects, greater cation exchange capacity, and greater soil magnesium saturation were associated with greater height of non-sprout origin stems from species groups other than oak or hickory in year 6. Our results suggest that overstory removal has driven stand demographics towards species favored by infrequent large-scale disturbance events such as clearcutting. Without post-harvest treatments to control competitors, oak regeneration on more mesic sites is unlikely to recruit into developing stands.

Citation

Swaim, J Travis.; Dey, Daniel C.; Saunders, Michael R.; Weigel, Dale R.; Thornton, Christopher D.; Kabrick, John M.; Jenkins, Michael A. 2016. Predicting the height growth of oak species (Quercus) reproduction over a 23-year period following clearcutting. Forest Ecology and Management. 364: 101-112. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2016.01.005.

Last updated on: November 16, 2016