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Forests 2015, 6(9), 3123-3135; doi:10.3390/f6093123

Previous Land Use and Invasive Species Impacts on Long-term Afforestation Success

1
Department of Forestry, Southern Illinois University, 1205 Lincoln Drive MC 4411, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
2
US Fish and Wildlife Service, Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, 8588 Route 148, Marion, IL 62959, USA
Current address: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 3200 SW Jefferson Way, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eric J. Jokela
Received: 21 July 2015 / Revised: 5 August 2015 / Accepted: 31 August 2015 / Published: 7 September 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [551 KB, uploaded 7 September 2015]   |  

Abstract

The conversion of agricultural lands to forests has increased worldwide over the past few decades for multiple reasons including increasing forest connectivity and wildlife habitat. However, previous land cover and competing vegetation often impede afforestation. We established 219 plots in 29 Quercus plantations on four previous land cover types (LCT): Clover, Soybeans, Woody Brush, and Herbaceous Weeds. Plantations were located in Illinois, USA and were sampled 15–18 years after planting. Sampling data for all trees (planted and volunteer) included species, diameter, and vine presence on the main bole of the tree. Free-to-grow status was recorded for all Quercus species and estimated cover of two invasive species, Elaeagnus umbellata and Lonicera japonica, was documented on each plot. There was a strong relationship between total tree density and invasive species cover across all sites. Stocking success was lower and E. umbellata cover was higher on Woody Brush sites compared to Clover and Soybean cover types. Additionally, significantly more free-to-grow Quercus saplings occurred in Clover and Soybean cover types compared to the Woody Brush sites. The results indicate that previous land cover plays a critical role in forest afforestation. Furthermore, while historically, volunteer tree species were thought to be detrimental to the development of planted species these results suggest that with the increasing prevalence of invasive species worldwide the role of volunteer species in afforestation should be reconsidered and silvicultural protocols adjusted accordingly. View Full-Text
Keywords: Quercus; Autumn olive; Japanese honeysuckle; Forest restoration Quercus; Autumn olive; Japanese honeysuckle; Forest restoration
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Nickelson, J.B.; Holzmueller, E.J.; Groninger, J.W.; Lesmeister, D.B. Previous Land Use and Invasive Species Impacts on Long-term Afforestation Success. Forests 2015, 6, 3123-3135.

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