Special Issue "The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept"

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecophysiology and Biology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 July 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Anthony S. Davis
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
College of Forestry, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Interests: seedling quality; nursery production; forest and rangeland restoration; international development
Dr. Jeremiah R. Pinto
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Moscow, ID 83843, USA
Interests: plant physiology; nursery production; environmental monitoring; environmental biophysics; reforestation/restoration; seedling quality
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Reforestation and restoration using nursery-produced seedlings is often the most reliable way to ensure the successful establishment and rapid growth of native plants. Seedling establishment success depends greatly on decisions and considerations made prior to planting, and yet seedlings are often grown without full consideration of the intended outplanting site and conditions. The best seedling can vary greatly from site to site depending on environmental conditions and objectives, but when strategies align limiting factors and mitigating measures, successful attainment of the objectives of the planting project—be it reforestation or restoration—can be increased. The Target Plant Concept is an effective framework for selecting seedlings and other types of plant material based on specific characteristics best-suited to a given site. These characteristics are often scientifically derived from testing the factors that can be linked to outplanting success, such as seedling morphology and physiology, genetic source, and overcoming limiting factors on outplanting sites. The articles contained in this Special Issue will focus on the latest science that shapes how seedlings can be grown and paired with outplanting techniques to meet objectives and accelerate reforestation and restoration trajectories.

Dr. Anthony S. Davis
Dr. Jeremiah R. Pinto
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Seedling physiology
  • Seedling quality
  • Genetics
  • Outplanting
  • Field performance
  • Stocktype
  • Nursery production

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Article
Root Growth Potential and Microsite Effects on Conifer Seedling Establishment in Northern Idaho
Forests 2021, 12(5), 597; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12050597 - 10 May 2021
Viewed by 298
Abstract
Environmental conditions and seedling quality interact to produce complex patterns of seedling survival and growth. Root growth potential (RGP) is one metric of seedling quality that can be rapidly measured prior to planting, but the correlation of RGP and seedling performance is not [...] Read more.
Environmental conditions and seedling quality interact to produce complex patterns of seedling survival and growth. Root growth potential (RGP) is one metric of seedling quality that can be rapidly measured prior to planting, but the correlation of RGP and seedling performance is not consistent across studies. Site factors including microsite objects that cast shade and competing vegetation can also influence seedling performance. We examined the effects of RGP, presence/absence of a microsite object, and competition cover on the survival and growth of three native conifers to the Inland Northwest, USA, over 5 years. We found that RGP had no effect on the survival or growth of western larch (Larix occidentalis), Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca), and grand fir (Abies grandis) at a mesic north aspect site and a xeric south aspect site. Comparatively, the presence of a microsite increased the odds of survival by 37% for western larch and 158% for grand fir, while the absence of forb cover increased the odds of survival of western larch by 72% and of grand fir by 26%. Douglas fir was less sensitive to microsites and competition. The strong effects of neighborhood conditions around seedlings help inform silvicultural practices to enhance the establishment of western larch and grand fir, including planting seedlings near shading objects and competition control, while these practices may not be as important for Douglas fir. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
The Use of Deep Container and Heterogeneous Substrate as Potentially Effective Nursery Practice to Produce Good Quality Nodal Seedlings of Populus sibirica Tausch
Forests 2021, 12(4), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/f12040418 - 31 Mar 2021
Viewed by 404
Abstract
Nursery practices are considered major factors influencing seedling quality, which are likely to be maintained in the early establishment phase in the field. Here, we investigated the effects of container depth and substrate heterogeneity on the growth of Populus sibirica nodal seedlings to [...] Read more.
Nursery practices are considered major factors influencing seedling quality, which are likely to be maintained in the early establishment phase in the field. Here, we investigated the effects of container depth and substrate heterogeneity on the growth of Populus sibirica nodal seedlings to suggest an effective nursery practice for producing quality seedlings appropriate for forest establishment in a dry environment. We used two substrate heterogeneities (homogeneous and heterogeneous) and two container depth treatments (30 and 60 cm). Variations in root collar diameter (RCD) growth, height growth, stem and root biomass, root to stem ratio, and root mass in the first 15 cm depth from the soil surface across the treatments were computed. Results revealed that both substrate heterogeneity and container depth had no significant effects on the RCD and height growth of P. sibirica seedlings but significantly improved their root and stem biomass. Seedlings in the 60 cm containers generally accumulated higher root biomass than those in the 30 cm containers. There was an interaction effect of container depth and substrate heterogeneity treatments on root and total dry mass, such that seedlings grown in the 60 cm container using heterogeneous substrate resulted in the highest root and total biomass. Analyses of proportional root growth in the upper 15 cm of the containers compared to the total indicated that both the main effects of deeper containers (60 cm) and heterogeneous substrate have fewer roots at this depth, indicating a greater root density in the bottom of the deeper containers. Therefore, deeper containers and heterogeneous substrate may be used as an effective nursery practice to produce seedlings with root traits potentially suitable for harsh conditions, such as arid and semi-arid environments. However, further studies using other seedling morphological traits in conjunction with field-trial tests are needed for a definitive assessment of the effectiveness of deeper containers and heterogeneous substrate in producing good quality seedlings potentially suitable in a dry environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
Establishment of a Genetically Diverse, Disease-Resistant Acacia koa A. Gray Seed Orchard in Kokee, Kauai: Early Growth, Form, and Survival
Forests 2020, 11(12), 1276; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11121276 - 28 Nov 2020
Viewed by 575
Abstract
Background and Objectives: Koa (Acacia koa A. Gray) is an economically, ecologically, and culturally valuable tree species endemic to Hawaii. A vascular wilt disease caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. koae Gardner (FOXY) induces high rates of mortality in [...] Read more.
Background and Objectives: Koa (Acacia koa A. Gray) is an economically, ecologically, and culturally valuable tree species endemic to Hawaii. A vascular wilt disease caused by the fungal pathogen Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. koae Gardner (FOXY) induces high rates of mortality in plantings and threatens native koa forests as well. Landowners are reluctant to consider koa for reforestation purposes in many areas due to the risk of mortality caused by FOXY. Producing seeds with genetic resistance to FOXY is vital to successful koa reforestation and restoration. The Hawaii Agriculture Research Center (HARC), with both public and private partners, operates a tree improvement program to develop wilt-resistant koa populations in Hawaii. The population genetics of koa is poorly understood and seed zones are evolving. Thus, HARC uses provisional seed zones based on genetic and biogeographic variables and has selected wilt-resistant koa populations that are locally found in Kokee, Kauai (eco-regions) of Hawaii. Materials and Methods: To make these selections, virulent FOXY isolates were used in previous seedling inoculation trials to evaluate resistance levels among koa families in greenhouse experiments, and the most resistant families were used in the field trial reported here. Results: In this trial, survival rates two years after planting varied by family, and ranged from 45% to 95%, but all resistant families had greater survival rates than the susceptible control (25%). The trial has been converted to a seed orchard. Conclusions: The higher survival rates of the families are encouraging and seeds coming from the orchard will improve the success of future restoration and reforestation efforts. Within these resistant families it was also possible to make some selections based on height, growth, diameter, and stem form. Thus, the establishment of a wilt-resistant seed orchard results in locally adapted, eco-region specific, disease-resistant koa seed that will allow for the restoration of this iconic species and provide plant material for commercial reforestation opportunities at the landscape level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
Nursery Cultural Techniques Facilitate Restoration of Acacia koa Competing with Invasive Grass in a Dry Tropical Forest
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1124; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111124 - 22 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 606
Abstract
Anthropogenic activity has caused persistent and prominent losses of forest cover in dry tropical forests. Natural regeneration of forest trees in grazed areas often fails due to lack of seed sources and consumption by ungulates. To address this, the effective restoration of such [...] Read more.
Anthropogenic activity has caused persistent and prominent losses of forest cover in dry tropical forests. Natural regeneration of forest trees in grazed areas often fails due to lack of seed sources and consumption by ungulates. To address this, the effective restoration of such sites often requires fencing and outplanting nursery-grown seedlings. In the degraded, dry forests of tropical Hawaii, USA, an additional challenge to restoration of native forest trees is the introduced kikuyu grass (Cenchrus clandestinus). This invasive, rapidly growing rhizomatous plant forms deep, dense mats. We studied the use of nursery cultural techniques to facilitate the establishment of koa (Acacia koa) seedlings outplanted amidst well-established kikuyu grass on a volcanic cinder cone on the dry, western side of Hawaii Island. Seedlings were grown four months in three container sizes (49, 164, 656 cm3) and with four rates (0, 4.8, 7.2, and 9.6 kg m−3) of 15–9–12 (NPK) controlled-release fertilizer incorporated into media prior to sowing. After 16 months in the field, seedling survival was > 80% for all treatments with two exceptions: the non-fertilized 49 cm3 (78%) and 164 cm3 (24%) containers. After 10 years, only these two treatments had significantly lower survival (35% and 10%, respectively) than the other treatments. One year following planting, none of the non-fertilized seedlings had transitioned to phyllodes from juvenile true leaves, regardless of container size. For the fertilized 656 cm3 container treatment, 78%–85% of seedlings had phyllodes, with mean values increasing by fertilizer rate. Phyllodes are known to confer greater drought resistance than true leaves in koa, which may help to explain the improved survival of fertilized trees on this relatively dry site. Overall, nursery fertilization was more influential on seedling height and diameter response than container size after outplanting. However, the largest container (656 cm3) with the addition of fertilizer, produced significantly larger trees than all other treatments during the early regeneration phase; early growth differences tended to fade at 10 years due to inter-tree canopy competition. Although koa is able to fix atmospheric nitrogen through rhizobium associations, our data confirm the importance of nursery fertilization in promoting regeneration establishment. Nursery cultural techniques may play an important role in forest restoration of dry tropical sites invaded by exotic vegetation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
Interaction of Biochar Type and Rhizobia Inoculation Increases the Growth and Biological Nitrogen Fixation of Robinia pseudoacacia Seedlings
Forests 2020, 11(6), 711; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11060711 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 965
Abstract
Adding biochar to soil can change soil properties and subsequently affect plant growth, but this effect can vary because of different feedstocks and methods (e.g., pyrolysis or gasification) used to create the biochar. Growth and biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) of leguminous plants can [...] Read more.
Adding biochar to soil can change soil properties and subsequently affect plant growth, but this effect can vary because of different feedstocks and methods (e.g., pyrolysis or gasification) used to create the biochar. Growth and biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) of leguminous plants can be improved with rhizobia inoculation that fosters nodule development. Thus, this factorial greenhouse study examined the effects of two types of biochar (i.e., pyrolysis and gasification) added at a rate of 5% (v:v) to a peat-based growth substrate and rhizobia inoculation (yes or no) on Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) seedlings supplied with 15NH415NO3. Seedling and nodule growth, nitrogen (N) content, and δ15N × 1000 were evaluated after 3 months. While addition of biochar without inoculation had no effect on seedling growth, inoculation with rhizobia increased seedling growth, BNF, and N status. Inoculated seedlings had reduced δ15N, indicating that N provided via fertilization was being diluted by N additions through BNF. Biochar type and inoculation interacted to affect seedling growth. Combining inoculation with either biochar type increased seedling leaf, stem, and total biomass, whereas gasifier biochar and inoculation improved all seedling growth variables and nodule biomass. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
Coconut Coir as a Sustainable Nursery Growing Media for Seedling Production of the Ecologically Diverse Quercus Species
Forests 2020, 11(5), 522; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11050522 - 07 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 945
Abstract
Peat, a non-sustainable resource, is still predominately used in forest nurseries. Coconut coir might provide an alternative, renewable, and reliable growing media but few studies have evaluated this media type in forest nurseries. We assessed the influence of pure coir, in combination with [...] Read more.
Peat, a non-sustainable resource, is still predominately used in forest nurseries. Coconut coir might provide an alternative, renewable, and reliable growing media but few studies have evaluated this media type in forest nurseries. We assessed the influence of pure coir, in combination with various fertilization regimes, on the growth and physiology of three ecologically diverse Quercus species seedlings (Q. robur, Q. pubescens, and Q. ilex) during nursery cultivation. Seedlings were grown using peat and pure coir in combination with three fertilization treatments (standard, K-enriched, and P-enriched). Data were collected for: (1) growth and physiological traits; (2) detailed above- and below-ground morphological traits by destructive analysis; and (3) NPK content in leaves, shoot and roots, and in the growing media, following cultivation. Peat and coir in combination with the various fertilization treatments affected above- and below-ground morphology and, to a lesser extent, the physiological traits of Quercus seedlings. Large effects of the substrate occurred for most morphological variables, with peat being more effective than coir in all studied species. Fertilization also produced significant differences. The effect of K-enriched fertilization on plant growth was clear across the three species and the two growing media. P-enriched fertilization in peat was the only combination that promoted a higher amount of this element in the tissues at the end of cultivation. Despite their smaller size, seedlings produced in coir were compatible with standard Quercus forest stocktype size, and showed a proportionally higher root system development and fibrosity. Our results suggest that coir can be used as an alternative substrate to grow Quercus species seedlings, and that fertilization can offset coir deficiencies in chemical properties. As several functional traits drive planting performance under varying environmental conditions. according to the Target Plant Concept, coir might thus serve as an acceptable material for seedling cultivation in some cases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
Herbivory and Competing Vegetation Interact as Site Limiting Factors in Maritime Forest Restoration
Forests 2019, 10(11), 950; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10110950 - 25 Oct 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1013
Abstract
Herbivory and competition during the regeneration phase influence forest successional dynamics. We demonstrated the importance of using the Target Plant Concept to identify and overcome site limiting factors for subtropical maritime forest restoration associated with deer browsing and competition. Quercus virginiana Mill. (live [...] Read more.
Herbivory and competition during the regeneration phase influence forest successional dynamics. We demonstrated the importance of using the Target Plant Concept to identify and overcome site limiting factors for subtropical maritime forest restoration associated with deer browsing and competition. Quercus virginiana Mill. (live oak) bareroot seedlings were planted into clearcuts along the US Southern Atlantic coast with different treatment combinations of herbivory control (fenced or non-fenced) against white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimm.) browsing and competing vegetation removal (none, one-year, or two-years). After three growing seasons, mean seedling survival was 61% with no significant treatment differences. Control of browse and vegetation interacted to facilitate growth of live oak; seedlings were significantly larger for all response parameters (diameter, height, crown width) when fenced and treated with vegetation control. Removal of vegetation improved seedling performance only in fenced plots, however, indicating a shift in pressure from herbivory to competition as the most limiting site factor when deer were excluded. After the second growing season, foliar nitrogen was greater in fenced plots than non-fenced plots and greater in two-year vegetation control subplots than non-vegetation control subplots. This result, however, was absent after the third growing season. Three years after clearcutting, there was no evidence of Q. virginiana natural regeneration in non-fenced plots. Even with artificial regeneration in non-fenced plots, Q. virginiana growth was slow, indicating that herbivory was a key limiting factor. Our findings illustrate the importance of accounting for site limiting factors and may aid in developing management prescriptions to promote semi-evergreen oak regeneration in ecosystems with high pressure from herbivory and competing vegetation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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Article
Multivariate Discriminant Analysis of Single Seed Near Infrared Spectra for Sorting Dead-Filled and Viable Seeds of Three Pine Species: Does One Model Fit All Species?
Forests 2019, 10(6), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10060469 - 30 May 2019
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1161
Abstract
Seed lots of pine species are composed of viable, dead-filled and empty seeds, and the success of complete sorting of dead-filled seeds using the conventional method (Incubation, Drying and Separation in water) is difficult to achieve; leaving a considerable scope for upgrading the [...] Read more.
Seed lots of pine species are composed of viable, dead-filled and empty seeds, and the success of complete sorting of dead-filled seeds using the conventional method (Incubation, Drying and Separation in water) is difficult to achieve; leaving a considerable scope for upgrading the sorting efficiency. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prospect of sorting viable and dead-filled seeds of pine species using Near Infrared (NIR) spectroscopy. To demonstrate this, dead-filled and viable seeds of Mason’s pine, slash pine and loblolly pine were incubated in moist medium for three days, dried for six hours and scanned by XDS Rapid Content Analyzer from 780–2500 nm. Orthogonal Projection to Latent Structure-Discriminant Analysis was used to develop discriminant models for each species separately and for all species combined. The results showed that the sensitivity (the model’s ability to correctly classify members of a given class) and the specificity (the model’s ability to reject non-members of a given class) were 100% for each species model and 98%–99% for combined species model. The overall classification accuracy was 100% and 99% for individual species and combined species models, respectively. The absorption band in the 1870–1950 nm with a major peak at 1930 nm, which is related to water, was responsible for discrimination as dead-filled seeds dried quicker than viable seeds during the drying process. Our study is the first attempt to simultaneously discriminate dead-filled and viable seeds of pines by NIR spectroscopy. The results demonstrates that a global calibration model of seed lots of several pine species can be equally effective as the individual species model to discriminate viable and dead-filled seeds by NIR spectroscopy, thereby ensuring precision sowing (also known as single seed sowing) in nurseries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Scientific Basis of the Target Plant Concept)
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