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Robert Mitchell, Jones Ecological Research Center, bob.mitchell@jonesctr.org
Steve Jack, Jones Ecological Research Center, steve.jack@jonesctr.org (Presenter)
L. Katherine Kirkman, Jones Ecological Research Center, kay.kirkman@jonesctr.org
Noah Jansen, Jones Ecological Research Center, noah.jansen@jonesctr.org
Jason McGee, Jones Ecological Research Center, jason.mcgee@jonesctr.org
Lisa Giencke, Jones Ecological Research Center, lisa.giencke@jonesctr.org

 

Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) forests of the southeastern coastal plain are frequently managed for broad conservation objectives using multi-aged silvicultural approaches. While there are some long-standing operational examples of successful multiage management in this forest type, there are still many unanswered questions regarding post-harvest recovery in longleaf forests and the mechanisms that control these responses. We established a long-term research project at the J.W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway to examine how the ground cover plant community recovers following harvest and how seedling recruitment responds to canopy manipulations. Silvicultural treatments included single-tree selection, group selection, and groups with reserves. Harvest treatments were implemented in November 2009 following extensive pre-treatment measurements, and post-treatment measurements were collected in 2010 and 2011. Disturbance impacts varied for the different canopy manipulations and associated levels of skidder traffic. Skidder traffic created a disturbance gradient ranging from compression of existing vegetation to a significant reduction in ground cover. The three harvest treatments resulted in different percentages of soil and ground cover disturbance, with a greater percentage of the plot area affected in the single-tree selection treatment but with lower levels of disturbance. Soil compaction and ground cover disturbance was greater in the two group treatments and increased with number of passes by the logging equipment, but ground cover species richness was not significantly affected by harvest treatments. Numbers and spatial patterns of seedlings from the 2011 seed crop did differ with treatment, largely as affected by localized canopy density.