Herbivory and advance reproduction influence quaking aspen regeneration response to management in southern Utah, USA
Canadian Journal of Forest Research
NRC Research Press
Recent concern regarding the potential decline of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) forests in the western United States has sparked concern over whether the species can be effectively regenerated. Using a retrospective approach, we quantified the response of regenerating aspen stems to an ordinary set of silvicultural treatments conducted over approximately the past decade in southern Utah, USA. A suite of variables describing stand structure and composition, stand vigor, physiographic factors, herbivore pressure, and treatment types were measured to predict the possible controls, as well as their relative importance, on aspen regeneration. Results suggested that aspen regeneration was most strongly related to browsing pressure, site preparation technique, and the presence of advance reproduction before treatment, which is a novel finding. Secondary predictors included elevation, site index, and overstory conditions, which are generally characteristics of stand vigor. Management recommendations based on our results should recognize the strong primary control that browsing pressure exerts on regeneration. First, the height of advance reproduction is inherently dependent on antecedent herbivory and also indicative of present browsing and should be assessed before treatment. Second, the most effective site preparation techniques, namely broadcast burning and browsing reduction, will directly reduce browsing pressure, assuming ungulate populations are not too large. Any management targeting timely and effective aspen regeneration should incorporate monitoring and (or) controlling browsing pressure, both before and after treatment.
Britton, J. M., R. J. DeRose, K. E. Mock, and J. N. Long. 2016. Herbivory and advance reproduction influence quaking aspen regeneration response to management in southern Utah, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 46:674-682.