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Factors affecting northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis) seedling establishment and early growth in mixedwood stands

Larouche, C., J.C. Ruel and J.M. Lussier . 2011. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 41:568-582


Regeneration of northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) is often deficient after harvesting in mixedwood stands growing on mesic sites even where browsing pressure is low. We compared the effectiveness of silviculture treatments on early regeneration of white-cedar after single-tree selection cutting (25% of basal area removed), shelterwood seed cut (50% of basal area removed), and group selection cutting (gaps of 625 m2) in three yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britt.) softwood uneven-aged stands in Quebec, Canada. Three years after harvesting, the combination of factors that maximized abundance of white-cedar seedlings was single-tree selection cutting with artificial seeding on exposed mineral seedbeds (68.8% of plots with the presence of white-cedar). Early growth of planted white-cedar seedlings (40 cm tall) and biomass production were proportional to light availability, i.e., best under group selection cutting (mean height increment = 14.8 cm/year, mean root collar diameter increment = 3.0 mm/year). Browsing pressure has regional impacts depending on herbivore occupancy of the area. Our study was conducted near the northern limit of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus (Zimmerman, 1780)), and deer were locally absent, while snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus Erxleben, 1777) did not have a consistent effect on seedling abundance and early survival, limiting height growth only during the first year following planting.