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Title: The influence of silvicultural treatments and site conditions on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedling establishment in eastern Kentucky, USA

Author: Rhoades, Chuck; Loftis, David; Lewis, Jeffrey; Clark, Stacy;

Date: 2009

Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 1211-1218.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: After more than 50 years of research and selective breeding, blight-resistant American chestnut (Castanea dentata) trees will soon be available for planting into the species' pre-blight range. Increased understanding of the regeneration requirements of pure American chestnut (C. dentata [Marsh.] Borkh.) will increase the success of future efforts to establish blight-resistant chestnut. We quantified survival and initial growth of bare-root American chestnut seedlings at five locations in eastern Kentucky, USA. We used a split-plot design to compare seedlings planted within adjacent mesic and xeric sites treated with either a two-age shelterwood overstory treatment or a midstory removal treatment. The silvicultural treatments and topographic settings allowed us to evaluate chestnut seedling performance under four light and site productivity combinations. Seedling survival was 57% and seedling height averaged 94 cm following two growing seasons. Seedling survival was negatively related to sand and coarse fragment content, but was unrelated to silviculture treatment or topographic position. Chestnut seedlings grew best in shelterwood overstory treatments areas on mesic sites. Seedlings growing in shelterwood overstory treatment areas added 3- and 3.5-times more height and stem increment compared to seedlings planted aftermidstory removal. Seedling leafmass and foliar nitrogen (N) content were also greatest in shelterwood plantings on mesic sites. The high-light environment created by shelterwood overstory removal resulted in better initial seedling growth, but the moderate-light of the midstory removal treatment may ultimately provide chestnut seedlings a greater advantage over competing vegetation.

Keywords: Cumberland Plateau, hardwood silviculture, forest restoration

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Rhoades, Chuck; Loftis, David; Lewis, Jeffrey; Clark, Stacy. 2009. The influence of silvicultural treatments and site conditions on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedling establishment in eastern Kentucky, USA. Forest Ecology and Management. 258: 1211-1218.


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