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Forests 2017, 8(2), 31; doi:10.3390/f8020031

Influence of Mature Overstory Trees on Adjacent 12-Year Regeneration and the Woody Understory: Aggregated Retention versus Intact Forest

1
Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota, 1530 Cleveland Avenue North, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA
2
School of Biological Sciences and ARC Centre for Forest Value, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
3
USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 5985 Highway K, Rhinelander, WI 54501-9128, USA
4
USDA Forest Service, Northern Research Station, 1831 Hwy 169 E., Grand Rapids, MN 55744, USA
5
Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, University of Vermont, 81 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, VT 05405, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Timothy A. Martin
Received: 21 November 2016 / Revised: 13 January 2017 / Accepted: 19 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
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Abstract

Retention harvesting, an approach that intentionally retains legacy features such as mature overstory trees, provides options for achieving ecological objectives. At the same time, retained overstory trees may compete with the nearby recovering understory for resources, and much remains to be learned about potential trade-offs with regeneration objectives, particularly over extended time periods. We assessed the influence of aggregated retention (reserved mature overstory and understory patches) versus intact forest on structure and productivity (standing biomass) of the adjacent woody understory and regeneration 12 years after harvest in northern Minnesota, USA. Each site was dominated by Populus tremuloides Michx., a species that regenerates prolifically via root sprouts following disturbance. Overall, fewer differences than expected occurred between the effects of intact forest and aggregated retention on regeneration, despite the small size (0.1 ha) of aggregates. Instead, harvest status and distance from harvest edge had a greater influence on structure and standing woody biomass. Proximity to aggregates reduced large sapling biomass (all species, combined) relative to open conditions, but only up to 5 m into harvested areas. This suggests the trade-off for achieving productivity objectives might be minimal if managers use retention aggregates in this region to achieve ecological objectives and meet management guidelines. View Full-Text
Keywords: aggregated retention; retention harvesting; variable retention; quaking aspen; Populus tremuloides; forest influence; edge effects; silviculture; aspen mixedwoods; structure; regeneration aggregated retention; retention harvesting; variable retention; quaking aspen; Populus tremuloides; forest influence; edge effects; silviculture; aspen mixedwoods; structure; regeneration
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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

Curzon, M.T.; Baker, S.C.; Kern, C.C.; Palik, B.J.; D’Amato, A.W. Influence of Mature Overstory Trees on Adjacent 12-Year Regeneration and the Woody Understory: Aggregated Retention versus Intact Forest. Forests 2017, 8, 31.

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