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Forests 2016, 7(1), 4; doi:10.3390/f7010004

Consequences of Shifts in Abundance and Distribution of American Chestnut for Restoration of a Foundation Forest Tree

1
Department of Biology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA 23185, USA
2
Southern Institute of Forest Genetics, Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Saucier, MS 39574, USA
3
Department of Forestry, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546, USA
4
Virginia Information Technologies Agency, Chester, VA 23836, USA
5
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47901, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Eric J. Jokela
Received: 12 November 2015 / Revised: 8 December 2015 / Accepted: 15 December 2015 / Published: 24 December 2015
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Abstract

Restoration of foundation species, such as the American chestnut (Castanea dentata) that was devastated by an introduced fungus, can restore ecosystem function. Understanding both the current distribution as well as biogeographic patterns is important for restoration planning. We used United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis data to quantify the current density and distribution of C. dentata. We then review the literature concerning biogeographic patterns in C. dentata. Currently, 431 ± 30.2 million stems remain. The vast majority (360 ± 22 million) are sprouts <2.5 cm dbh. Although this number is approximately 10% of the estimated pre-blight population, blight has caused a major shift in the size structure. The current-day population has a larger range, particularly west and north, likely due to human translocation. While climate change could facilitate northward expansion, limited seed reproduction makes this unlikely without assisted migration. Previous research demonstrates that the current, smaller population contains slightly higher genetic diversity than expected, although little information exists on biogeographic patterns in the genetics of adaptive traits. Our research provides a baseline characterization of the contemporary population of C. dentata, to enable monitoring stem densities and range limits to support restoration efforts. View Full-Text
Keywords: Castanea dentata; chestnut blight; FIA; forest inventory and analysis; tree distribution Castanea dentata; chestnut blight; FIA; forest inventory and analysis; tree distribution
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

Dalgleish, H.J.; Nelson, C.D.; Scrivani, J.A.; Jacobs, D.F. Consequences of Shifts in Abundance and Distribution of American Chestnut for Restoration of a Foundation Forest Tree. Forests 2016, 7, 4.

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