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Ecol Appl. 2006 Aug;16(4):1575-89.

Survival and growth of under-planted trees: a meta-analysis across four biomes.

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Institut de recherche en biologie végétale, Groupe de recherche en écologie forestière interuniversitaire, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


The transformation of natural forest regeneration processes by human activities has created the need to develop and implement new models of forest management. Alternative silvicultural systems such as variable retention harvest, partial and patch cuts, and older forest management practices such as under-planting, are used in many forests around the world, particularly in North American oak stands, the boreal and coastal temperate rain forests of Canada and the United States, and in many degraded tropical regions of Asia and the Americas. Specific objectives are pursued in each of these biomes, but some are common to most regions, such as preservation of cover and structure and their associated benefits for natural or artificial regeneration due to moderation of the microclimate, development of optimal light and competition conditions, and reduced predation by herbivores. Shelterwoods are often presented as an alternative to clear-cutting to improve the survival of planted trees. A meta-analysis of published results with randomization tests was performed to test the relationship between overstory density and planted seedling growth and survival. Multiple comparisons were also used to reveal optimal levels of overstory density, if they exist. A majority of studies show that survival and growth improve as stand density decreases to an intermediate level, below which they either drop or stabilize. This level seems optimal in most conditions, as it is also more apt to fulfill other objectives imposed on today's forest activities, such as the conservation of forest processes and structures, and the reconstruction of degraded stands through the accelerated return of mid- to late-successional species.

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