Timing is Not Everything: Assessing the Efficacy of Pre- Versus Post-Harvest Herbicide Applications in Mitigating the Burgeoning Birch Phenomenon in Regenerating Hardwood Stands
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Sweet birch (Betula lenta L.) is aggressively recruiting in temperate forest understories of the eastern United States and often dominates the post-disturbance seedling community, diminishing diversity and hindering sustainable silviculture. The type and timing of silvicultural actions affect birch recruitment via their effects on seedling recruitment, survival, and growth. Here, we examine birch regeneration under two contrasting treatment sequences: pre- versus post-shelterwood harvest herbicide application (H–S vs. S–H) in combination with white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman) browsing (fenced vs. unfenced) at 22 sites in northwestern Pennsylvania, USA. Additionally, we examine how treatments interact with additional site factors, including potential propagule sources and site productivity (i.e., integrated moisture index). We found the S–H sequence initially reduced birch density by 71% relative to the H–S sequence; however, the magnitude of this reduction waned over five growing seasons. Furthermore, birch proliferated following the H–S sequence only where mature birch were present. Deer browsing reduced birch height by 29% relative to fenced areas protected from browsing; however, by the fifth growing season birch seedlings were over twice as tall as other hardwood species across all treatments. Finally, increasingly mesic sites enhanced birch height growth. In sum, although post-harvest herbicide (S–H) provides short-lived control over birch, land managers should also consider browse pressure, seed source, and site productivity, as these may enhance or diminish the efficacy of post-shelterwood herbicide sequence effects on birch.
Royo, Alejandro A.; Pinchot, Cornelia C.; Stanovick, John S.; Stout, Susan L. 2019. Timing is Not Everything: Assessing the Efficacy of Pre- Versus Post-Harvest Herbicide Applications in Mitigating the Burgeoning Birch Phenomenon in Regenerating Hardwood Stands. Forests. 10(4): 324-. 15 p. https://doi.org/10.3390/f10040324.