Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Scott E. Schlarbaum

Committee Members

James L. Byford, Frank T. van Manen


The feasibility of establishing locally adapted wildlife plantings using quality-unproved seedlings in east Tennessee was studied on four different Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) properties. Seeds of various mast producing species were collected over a two-year period (fall 1998-faIl 1999) and were guided by the Tennessee Seed Zone System. Seeds were collected by individual mother trees.

Seven different species of oak (Quercus L.) were grown at the Georgia Forestry Commission's Flint River Nursery in 1998. The seedlings were grown by genetic family for one year to obtain optimal size. They were lifted and visually separated into three grades (cull, good, or premium). Approximately 60 percent of the seedlings were judged to be of acceptable quality for field plantings. Data were collected on the seedlings to compare first-order lateral root (FOLR) number, height, and root collar diameter (RCD) among and within various oak species. Genetic differences in growth performance of nursery seedlings indicate that families can be selected for early competitiveness in the field based on overall mean nursery performance. Species adapted to more xeric sites, such as scarlet and southern red oaks, had fewer and smaller ranges in FOLR numbers than northern red and willow oak species from mesic or hydric sites, indicating species similarities in adaptability according to site characteristics. The strongest correlation between growth variables was represented by the association between seedling height and RCD except in northern red oak. The strongest correlation for northern red oak was between FOLR and RCD. The positive correlations between RCD and other growth variables demonstrates that RCD could be a good indicator of FOLR number and height when visually selecting plantable seedlings. Some families had higher percentages of larger seedlings identifying specified mother trees that produce proportionally more high quality seedlings. At least 85 seedlings are needed to adequately represent growth characteristics of a family. Wildlife plantings of different oak species were established in the winter of 2000. Nine mixed oak plantings were established on four different TWRA Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), leaving additional space for soft mast species to be planted in 2001. The plantings can eventually be thinned of low mast producers and poor growing trees to keep only the fastest growing, best mast producers. In addition to providing mast, these plantings can be developed into seed orchards to provide a source of locally adapted, genetically improved seed. Seedlings that exhibit the best overall masting and growth characteristics can be grafted into to seed orchards to further maximize growth potential, if grafting is an option. In 1999, five different species of oaks and ten different species of soft mast were collected and planted at the Georgia Forestry Commissions Flint River Nursery. Collection of soft mast seed presented many difficulties and is very resource demanding. Collection procedures will help develop practical collection protocols for native soft mast species at an affordable cost. The plantings in this study were generally established according to the Tennessee Seed Zones. A Geographical Information System (GIS) database was set up in conjunction with the Tennessee Seed Zone System using ArcView® GIS (ESRI, Redlands, California). The locations of collection trees were transferred to TWRA GIS personnel. In the future, TWRA personnel will be able make seed collections from mother trees that have been identified as consistent mast producers and/or produce fast growing progenies.

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