Reforestation of bottomland hardwood sites in the southeastern United States has markedly increased in recent years due, in part, to financial incentives provided by conservation programs. Currently > 250,000 ha of marginal farmland have been returned to hardwood forests. I observed establishment of trees and shrubs on 205 reforested bottomlands: 133 sites were planted primarily with oak species (Quercus spp.), 60 sites were planted with pulpwood producing species (Populus deltoides, Liquidambar styraciflua, or Platanus occidentalis), and 12 sites were not planted (i.e., passive regeneration). Although oak sites were planted with more species, sites planted with pulpwood species were more rapidly colonized by additional species. The density of naturally colonizing species exceeded that of planted species but density of invaders decreased rapidly with distance from forest edge. Trees were shorter in height on sites planted with oaks than on sites planted with pulpwood species but within a site, planted trees attained greater heights than did colonizing species. Thus, planted trees dominated the canopy of reforested sites as they matured. Planted species acted in concert with natural invasion to influence the current condition of woody vegetation on reforested sites. Cluster analysis of species importance values distinguished three woody vegetation conditions: (1) Populus deltoides stands (2) oak stands with little natural invasion by other tree species, and (3) stands dominated by planted or naturally invading species other than oaks. Increased diversity on reforested sites would likely result from (a) greater diversity of planted species, particularly when sites are far from existing forest edges and (b) thinning of planted trees as they attain closed canopies.
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Stand development on reforested bottomlands in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley