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Forests 2013, 4(3), 650-665; doi:10.3390/f4030650

Tree Species Richness and Stand Productivity in Low-Density Cluster Plantings with Oaks (Quercus robur L. and Q. petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl.)

Institute of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Albert-Ludwigs University of Freiburg, Tennenbacherstr. 4, Freiburg, D-79085, Germany
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Received: 1 July 2013 / Revised: 8 August 2013 / Accepted: 9 August 2013 / Published: 16 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature papers (2013))
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Abstract

Low density plantings complemented by natural regeneration is an increasingly common reforestation technique to ensure growth of a sufficient number of trees from desired species while maintaining natural processes such as succession. One such form of low density planting that aims at lowering establishment costs—oak clusters—has been developed as an alternative to row planting since the 1980s in central Europe. However, whether cluster planting provides higher species richness and productivity than high density row planting has not previously been analyzed. Here, we compare tree species richness and productivity (measured as stand basal area) between oak cluster plantings and conventional row planting in young (10–26 years old) forest stands at seven study sites in Germany. Tree species richness was significantly higher in cluster plantings than in row plantings, whereas total basal areas were comparable. Naturally regenerated trees contributed on average to 43% of total stand basal area in cluster plantings, which was significantly higher than in row plantings. Total stand basal area in cluster planting was significantly related to the density of naturally regenerated trees. In turn, tree species diversity, density and basal area of naturally regenerated trees were increased with the size of unplanted area between clusters. Our results demonstrate that the admixture of naturally regenerated, early and mid-successional tree species compensates for a possible loss in productivity from planting fewer oaks. Low density cluster plantings can offer significant environmental benefits, at least for the first few decades of stand development, without compromising productivity. View Full-Text
Keywords: tree species diversity; productivity; oak regeneration; group planting; nest planting; mixed-species forests tree species diversity; productivity; oak regeneration; group planting; nest planting; mixed-species forests
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Saha, S.; Kuehne, C.; Bauhus, J. Tree Species Richness and Stand Productivity in Low-Density Cluster Plantings with Oaks (Quercus robur L. and Q. petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl.). Forests 2013, 4, 650-665.

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