2014 journal article

Response of tree regeneration to experimental gap creation and deer herbivory in north temperate forests


By: J. Forrester*, C. Lorimer*, J. Dyer*, S. Gower* & D. Mladenoff*

author keywords: Acer saccharum; Canopy gaps; Height growth; Northern hardwoods; Shade tolerance; Stump sprouts
TL;DR: An experiment to control several of these factors behind the effect of incorporating variable sized canopy openings characteristic of older forests on ecosystem services is conducted in north-central Wisconsin. (via Semantic Scholar)
UN Sustainable Development Goal Categories
15. Life on Land (OpenAlex)
Source: Web Of Science
Added: August 6, 2018

Structural heterogeneity has become a goal of contemporary forest management, yet the effect of incorporating variable sized canopy openings characteristic of older forests on ecosystem services is still largely unknown. Single-tree selection silviculture reduces tree species diversity, and group-selection harvests often produce inconsistent results in maintaining the proportion of species with low or intermediate shade tolerance. It is unclear how much variability is related to inherent growth rate differences among shade tolerance classes, asymmetric competition, sprouting behavior, herbivory, and other factors. We conducted an experiment to control several of these factors. The northern hardwood study area in north-central Wisconsin included 15 replicates of each of 3 sizes of experimental gaps (50 m2, 200 m2, and 380 m2). Ten main plots (80 × 80 m2) were fenced to exclude deer. Vertical height growth of saplings and stump sprouts was monitored for two years pre-treatment and four years post-treatment. Overstory gaps significantly increased height growth rates, but there was no significant difference between rates of the very shade-tolerant Acer saccharum and several midtolerant species in any gap size. Saplings dominated the regeneration layer in small gaps. Stump sprouts were more abundant and grew faster than saplings in large gaps, but after 4 years, A. saccharum advance regeneration still predominated in the upper height classes. Deer had limited effects on sapling development or species composition because tall advance regeneration was beyond their reach, but they severely affected the sprout layer. In unfenced plots, the unpalatable Ostrya viriginiana had the tallest sprouts. Overall, midtolerant species made up about 16% of the gap regeneration layer and appear to be increasing their proportion over time. Height growth rates of many saplings and sprouts exceeded 50 cm per year, suggesting that successful gap capture would be likely for both shade-tolerance groups under current environmental conditions. The non-significant difference in growth rates between shade-tolerant and midtolerant species across the light gradient could change as more time elapses since gap creation. However, our findings after four years are consistent with other studies in suggesting that there may be no consistent trends in the relative growth responses of shade-tolerant and midtolerant tree species to increased light and gap size.