Long-term silvicultural trials contribute to sustainable forest management by providing a better scientific understanding of how forest ecosystems respond to periodic timber harvesting. In this study, species composition, diversity, and net periodic growth of tree species in a mixed mesophytic forest in the central Appalachians were evaluated after about a half century of management. Three partial cutting practices on 18 research compartments and on 3 unmanaged reference compartments were evaluated (1951-2001) on 280 ha. Single-tree selection, diameter-limit harvesting, and timber harvesting in 0.162-ha patches were assessed on three northern red oak site indexso (SI) classes: 24, 21, and 18. Shannon-Weiner's diversity index (H') declined from the first (1951-1959) to last (1987- 2001) measurements and was related to both SI (P = 0.004) and treatment (P = 0.009). Sugar maple (Acer saccharum
Marsh.) and red maple (Acer rubrum
L.) were the two most abundant species in recent years (1987-2001& in contrast, in initial inventories (1951-1959), northern red oak (Quercus rubra
L.) and chestnut oak (Quercus prinus
L.) were most abundant. Net periodic annual increment (PAI) of merchantable trees (DBH 112.7 cm) was related to both SI (P = 0.004) and treatment (P = 0.003). Mean PA1 ranged from 4.6 m3.ha-'.year-' for single-tree selection to 2.5 m3.ha-'.year-' for unmanaged reference areas across all SI classes. The decline of oak species suggests that only intensive and specific forest management focused on maintaining oak species can obtain historical levels of diversity.
Schuler, Thomas M. 2004. Fifty years of partial harvesting in a mixed mesophytic forest: composition and productivity. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 34: 985-997.