Date of Award

5-1-2022

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Forestry

First Advisor

Holzmueller, Eric

Abstract

The Central Hardwood Region (CHR) is experiencing a lack of desirable hardwood regeneration on productive sites across the landscape. To better understand what facilitates desirable hardwood regeneration, additional studies that test the interaction of multiple disturbances are needed. For this reason, a demonstration area on the north end of Trail of Tears State Forest (Union County, Illinois) was established to compare hardwood regeneration response following four treatments: (1) burn only, (2) thin/burn, (3) harvest/thin/burn, and (4) control. Treatments were implemented beginning in 2014 to determine what combination of silvicultural practices best promotes desirable hardwood regeneration among large saplings (>3.3’ in height and 1” DBH to 3” DBH), small saplings (>3.3’ in height and up to 1” DBH), and seedlings (1”- 3.3’ in height) and increases midstory Quercus alba radial growth (stems >3” DBH). Eighty plots were surveyed in the summer of 2021, and overstory, regeneration, and canopy openness data were collected. Midstory Q. alba individuals were cored to elucidate the relationship of radial growth and silvicultural treatments. There was no significant difference of Quercus spp. density among treatments for any regeneration size class. No silvicultural releases were detected in midstory Q. alba individuals since treatment application in 2014. These results indicate that either there had not been enough time since treatment application, or the management practices did not alter canopy openness enough to cause a radial growth increase. Given the absence of Quercus spp. regeneration and growth using the four treatments, I suggest managers should also consider other factors such as deer population densities, non-Quercus competition vigor, and forest floor light availability when attempting to regenerate productive forests in the CHR.

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