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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Sapling recruitment in hardwood forests is often suppressed by overstory shade, interspecific competition, and browsing pressure from white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmerman). In some northern hardwood stands, these three interacting factors may cause persistent recruitment failure of the dominant canopy species, sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.), into the sapling size class. In this study, we compared initial (two-year) sugar maple and hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana ((Mill.) K. Koch) seedling and sapling recruitment in strip clearcuts to strip selection cuts, with combinations of herbicide and deer exclosures, in a northern hardwood forest with limited sugar maple sapling recruitment. We found that sugar maple sapling recruitment was higher in exclosures, particularly in strip clearcuts. Moreover, mixed models predicted that exclosures in strip clearcuts with herbicide tended to benefit sugar maple sapling recruitment, especially when the pre-treatment density was less than ~1500 stems ha−1. Sapling density of hophornbeam was also promoted in exclosure plots but was negatively affected by herbicide. Graminoid and Rubus spp. cover was also limited by herbicide following harvest, potentially alleviating constraints on future sugar maple sapling recruitment. Our findings indicate that sugar maple sapling recruitment in strip clearcuts is similar to strip selection cuts unless browsing pressure and interspecific competition are also alleviated.

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© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/). Publisher’s version of record:

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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