Interactive effects of uneven-aged reproduction and hurricane disturbance on longleaf pine stand dynamics

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Ashton Shell, Kimberly Bohn, Justin McKeithen, Ajay Sharma, John Willis

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Currently, uneven-aged silviculture is increasingly considered as a way to restore and manage forest ecosystems. We conducted a study in the southeastern US utilizing a replicated, operational scale, long-term experiment established to compare uneven-aged harvest techniques (single-tree and group selection) in longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill). Two months following study initiation in 2004, Hurricane Ivan impacted our experimental stands providing an opportunity to explore the combined effects of hurricane disturbance and uneven-aged harvesting on longleaf pine stand dynamics. Data were collected in 2003 (pretreatment), in 2005 (post-treatment), and again in 2010 focusing on (1) forest structure, (2) tree growth, (3) longleaf pine regeneration and (4) understory plant conditions. Group selection plots contained significantly more grass-stage seedlings in 2010 (17,870 seedlings/ha) followed by single-tree selection (11,190 seedlings/ha) and control (8,070 seedlings/ha). However, there were significantly fewer bolt-stage saplings in the group selection plots (53 stems/ha) than in the single-tree selection (605 stems/ha) or control (278 stems/ha). Between 2005 and 2010, relative growth rates of basal area were not significantly different between treatments. Point pattern analyses using the Ripley’s K function indicated variability in the spatial distribution of residual overstory trees both within and between treatments, with evidence of clustering of residual trees and large regeneration gaps observed across all treatment plots. Application of uneven-aged selection methods requires attention to both residual basal area and harvest gap size, but our findings suggest residual basal area may exert a greater influence on longleaf pine stand structure and gap dynamics following a hurricane.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

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