Site preparation for longleaf pine restoration on hydric sites : stand development and ground flora responses 15 years after planting
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Longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Mill.) restoration is an important land management goal throughout the Southeast. On hydric sites within the Atlantic Coastal Plain, restoration may involve site preparation prior to planting in order to overcome challenges to seedling establishment, such as abundant competition and poor soil drainage. Short-term seedling responses to site preparation on these sites are well understood, with site preparation typically improving longleaf pine seedling growth but not survival. Investment in site preparation assumes that treatments will result in longterm benefits to stand establishment, yet lasting impacts of site preparation on longleaf pine are not well understood. Additionally, longleaf pine ecosystem restoration seeks not only to establish longleaf pine but also to maintain or improve the understory plant community. Little research has been conducted on the long-term effects of site preparation on vegetation in flatwoods sites. To fill these gaps in scientific understanding, we sampled longleaf pine plantations in Onslow County, North Carolina through three years and at 15 years after site preparation and planting. The eight study treatments we tested include an untreated control, six combinations of two vegetation control treatments (chopping or herbicide) with three soil manipulation treatments (flat [no treatment], mounding, or bedding), and an herbicide-chopping-bedding treatment. Our objectives were to determine the long-term impacts of site preparation on longleaf pine stand development and on the surrounding ground flora.
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