Regeneration of Northern Red Oak in Relation to Ectomycorrhizae in Oak and Pine Stands After Overstory and Understory Manipulations

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Northern Journal of Applied Forestry






Society of American Foresters

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Growth of northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) seedlings in relation to colonization by indigenous ectomycorrhizal (ECM) fungi was studied in oak and pine stands in northern Lower Michigan that were subjected to overstory and understory manipulations. Two stand types (oak and pine), three blocks of each stand type, four canopy cover treatments (clearcut, 25% cover (50% cover in the first year), 75% cover and uncut), and two understory treatments (shrub removal and untreated control) were involved in the experiment. Northern red oak acorns from a common seed source were sown in May 1991 to simulate natural regeneration. Seedling growth and its relation to percent ECM were evaluated for the first two growing seasons.

A significantly larger root-collar diameter of northern red oak seedlings was found in pine stands than in oak stands for the first growing season (P < 0.001). However, this difference could not be explained by overall ECM colonization. Seedling growth and ECM colonization were not affected by the shrub removal treatment during the first two growing seasons. In contrast, northern red oak seedling size and weight were strongly influenced by the overstory treatment, with lower levels of canopy cover resulting in larger seedlings. Seedlings had the greatest percent ECM in the partial cover treatment (25-50%) and the lowest percent ECM in the clearcut. After accounting for the effects of canopy cover, the relationship between total biomass of northern red oak seedlings and percent ECM was positively correlated (P = 0.001) during the first growing season and negatively correlated (P = 0.038) during the second growing season. A positive relationship between root/shoot ratio and percent ECM also existed in the first year (P = 0.039). These results indicate that ECM promoted more root development than shoot development, particularly underpartial canopy cover (25%-50%) treatments, where the greatest percent ECM and largest root/shoot ratio were found. Moreover, our results suggest that these partial canopy cover treatments provide a favorable balance between ECM abundance and northern red oak seedling development in both oak and pine stands on intermediate quality sites, and may lead to northern red oak regeneration success on such sites. North. J. Appl. For. 15(4):182-190.