SREL Reprint #2393




Species selection and seedling establishment for restoration of bottomland forests

Kenneth W. McLeod and Thomas G. Ciravolo

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory

Abstract. Bottomland forests were severely disturbed by the release of thermal effluents into Fourmile Branch, a third order stream on the Savannah River Site. During the three decades (1955-1985) of release, the effluent destroyed the vegetation, the sprouting potential and the soil seed bank. Outplanting would be necessary to accelerate succession and return the drastically disturbed 90 ha delta habitat back into a bottomland forest. Ten bottomland tree species were examined for site suitability, influence of initial transplant height, and influence of tree shelters. After 6 years, only Taxodium distichum had survival greater than 50% for any height class. Quercus nigra and Q. phellos had good initial survival, with transplants between 60 and 120 cm tall, but survival declined to less than 30% after 4 years. Performance of the other seven species was unacceptable. The smallest height class (30-45 cm) had poor survival due to flood damage. Survival of transplants greater than 120 cm was also poor. Tree shelters doubled survival of Q. phellos, but did not strongly influence survival of other species. Species suitability, initial transplant height and use of tree shelters all affected the success of this bottomland forest restoration.

Keywords: restoration, bottomland, tree shelters, transplant height, Acer rubrum, Betula nigra, Liquidambar styracfflua, Liriodendron tulipifera, Nyssa sciatica var. sylvatica, Platanus occidentalis, Quercus alba, Q. nigra, Q. phellos, and Taxodium distichum


SREL Reprint #2393

McLeod, K.W. and T.G. Ciravolo. 1999. Species selection and seedling establishment for restoration of bottomland forests. p. 222-236. In First Biennial North American Forest Ecology Workshop, Raleigh, NC.

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