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Survival and growth of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) seedlings under various silvicultural regimes in a mixed oak forest ecosystem.
McCament, Corinne*,1, McCarthy, Brian1, 1 Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
ABSTRACT- A blight resistant variety of American chestnut Castanea dentata is scheduled to be available for large-scale restoration efforts within the next decade. However, the regeneration ecology of this species is poorly understood relative to other hardwood species. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the forest microenvironments best suited to C. dentata seed germination, seedling survival, biomass resource allocation, and leaf area to target the best environments for future plantings of blight resistant seeds. Using blight susceptible chestnut seeds, we planted 100 (n = 10 reps of 10) in each of four silvicultural units (control, burn, thin, and thin/burn) in three mixed oak forests (total of 1200 seeds) in southeastern Ohio. Germination and survival percentages were observed monthly (June-September, 2002). Seedlings were harvested in September and patterns of biomass allocation determined. Germination or survival did not vary (P > 0.05) among forests or treatments. However, patterns of biomass allocation varied considerably among silvicultural treatments. Seedlings in any stand that received thinning (increased light) were larger in basal diameter, taproot length, taproot mass, fine root mass, stem mass, stem length, and leaf area (all P < 0.01). Our data suggest that American chestnut is very responsive to patterns of available light relative to growth and biomass allocation. Thus, future restoration efforts should target gaps or recently thinned stands for chestnut reintroduction.
Key words: American chestnut, Castanea dentata, fire, restoration ecology