Natural Regeneration Dynamics of Red Oak Seedlings in Mississippi Bottomland Forests
Boerger, Ellen Marie
AdvisorFrey, Brent R.
CommitteeEzell, Andrew W.
Hawkins, Tracy S.
Numerous studies highlighted sharp declines in abundance of red oak species (Quercus spp., Section Erythrobalanus) in the southeastern United States. Red oaks are major components of bottomland forests, provide important ecological services, and are a critical source of hard mast for wildlife and high-value timber (Oliver et al. 2005). Bottomland hardwoods are usually managed with natural regeneration, and maintaining a component of red oak can challenge forest managers, given sporadic acorn production (masting behavior), and lack of advance regeneration establishment prior to disturbance. This study investigated the development of hardwood advance regeneration in relation to understory light availability and stand structure in mature closed canopy stands following silvicultural treatments. Improved understanding of red oak natural regeneration can better clarify any relationship between seedling abundance, available understory light, and residual basal area. Results will aid in selection of appropriate management techniques to sustain dominance of red oaks within bottomland hardwood forests.