Date of Award
Master of Science
Adam Taylor and David Buckley
In recent decades, there has been an alarming decline in white oak (Quercus alba.) regeneration and recruitment occurring within eastern forests. Historically, the frequency and the intensity of anthropogenic disturbances was dynamic over the landscape. However, over just the last century a major compositional shift has occurred from this change in disturbance regimes. Eastern forests are now promoting the regeneration of mesic species that obstruct white oaks’ ability to compete successfully and establish in the upper canopy.
The majority of successful white oak regeneration and recruitment is now occurring on the average to more xeric sites. Limited studies have been conducted that assess the effects of a midstory removal on the growth and abundance of advanced white oak reproduction that resulted from a mast acorn crop season. This study was conducted at the Oak Ridge Forest Resources Research and Education Center (FRREC) over two complete growing seasons. A previous season’s mast acorn crop, resulting in the forest floor being carpeted with advanced white oak reproduction, was utilized by applying a midstory removal to enhance white oak seedlings. This study aims to investigate the effects of increased intermediate light conditions on reproduction, growth, and abundance of white oak seedlings and competitor species.
Data were analyzed in R. The results indicate a positive response from white oak seedlings receiving the midstory removal treatment on the plot and subplot level. Changes in white oak seedling height classes on the plot level were observed following each growing season as well as from the first to last year. There was also significant differences observed between treatments on the subplot level in percent height and root collar diameter (RCD) growth following each growing season and from the first to last year. In addition, there were differences in ranges of percent height growth and percent light received between the two treatments. This study provides additional information to the existing literature of silviculture, evaluates the immediate effects of a midstory release cut on growth and abundance of advance reproduction that resulted from a bumper acorn crop season, and provides guidelines for advancing established natural white oak reproduction.
Dugger, Canaan Jeffrey, "Advancing Natural White Oak (Quercus alba.) Reproduction Through a Midstory Removal. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2023.