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Influence of Forest Management on Acorn Production in the Southeastern Missouri Ozarks: Early Results of a Long-Term Ecosystem Experiment

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DOI: 10.4236/ojf.2015.55051    4,347 Downloads   4,838 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

Since acorn production is a foundational process of ecosystems dominated by oaks, understanding the impact of forest management practices on acorn production is critical to the sustainable management of oak forests. This investigation addressed the impact of even-aged management (EAM), uneven-aged management (UAM), and no-harvest management (NHM) on the production of mature, sound acorns over an 18-year period (1993-2010) of a long-term, landscape-scale forest management experiment in the Missouri Ozarks. Forest management impacts were investigated at two operational scales: the multi-stand compartment and the stand. We hypothesized that acorn production at both scales would be lower under active management (EAM and UAM) than NHM on these oak-dominated landscapes. Acorn production (acorns/ha/year) of red oaks (mainly black oak (Quercus velutina) and scarlet oak (Q. coccinea)) at the compartment level was lower under active management than NHM during the post-treatment period (1997-2010), but not for white oaks (mainly white oak (Q. alba) and post oak (Q. stellata)), which was largely a result of greater abundance and preferential harvesting of mature red oaks. At the stand scale, acorn production following either intermediate thinning or single-tree selection was comparable to yields observed in untreated stands suggesting that partial overstory removal can be implemented for harvesting timber and other silvicultural objectives without sacrificing acorn production. In many oak-dominated forests, active management will be necessary to mitigate future losses of acorn production driven by oak decline, succession, and climate change, including approaches for sustaining oak recruitment and acorn production.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Cite this paper

Olson, M. , Wolf, A. and Jensen, R. (2015) Influence of Forest Management on Acorn Production in the Southeastern Missouri Ozarks: Early Results of a Long-Term Ecosystem Experiment. Open Journal of Forestry, 5, 568-583. doi: 10.4236/ojf.2015.55051.

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