Journal Article

Effects of root competition on development of chestnut and oak regeneration following midstory removal

Caleb E. Brown, Brian G. Bailey, Michael R. Saunders and Douglass F. Jacobs

in Forestry: An International Journal of Forest Research

Published on behalf of Institute of Chartered Foresters

Volume 87, issue 4, pages 562-570
Published in print October 2014 | ISSN: 0015-752X
Published online May 2014 | e-ISSN: 1464-3626 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpu014
Effects of root competition on development of chestnut and oak regeneration following midstory removal

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  • Conservation of the Environment (Environmental Science)
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry

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Partial canopy cover promotes regeneration of many ecologically and/or economically favoured tree species in temperate mesic forests. However, the specific effects of belowground resource competition from different canopy strata in these systems are poorly understood. This is particularly the case for American chestnut (Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh.), a formerly dominant forest tree species in eastern North America that was functionally extirpated from the canopy by an exotic blight disease and for which there is now increased interest in forest restoration using blight-resistant backcross hybrids. We examined the influence of overstory and herbaceous root competition (via trenching or weeding) on growth and survival of 3-year-old, underplanted American chestnut and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) seedlings following midstory removal. Leaf physiology was evaluated on American chestnut throughout the third growing season. Compared with northern red oak, American chestnut had greater relative aboveground growth and its relative growth was more responsive to the removal of overstory root competition. American chestnut had greater instantaneous water use efficiency in the absence of overstory root competition. Herbaceous root competition had no effect on seedling growth of either species. Thus, in low-light conditions typical of an incomplete canopy, overstory root competition and not herbaceous competition limited American chestnut seedling growth and physiological development during establishment.

Journal Article.  6641 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Conservation of the Environment (Environmental Science) ; Environmental Sustainability ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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