Growth Response of Sessile Oak and European Hornbeam to Traditional Coppice-with-Standards Management
MetadataShow full item record
Research Highlights: The influence of litter raking and livestock grazing on the development of juvenile sessile oak and European hornbeam sprouts as well as on sessile oak standards were studied. Such experiments are very rare, especially in central Europe where these activities have been prohibited for several decades. Little is known on how these ancient management activities affect tree growth. Background and Objectives: Traditional management practices in coppice forests such as grazing and litter raking have been abandoned, but have recently been studied as to whether these practices can substantially contribute to an increase in the species diversity of coppices. The important question is, however, how these practices influence the growth of coppice-with-standards. Therefore, this study focused on the effect of grazing, litter raking, and their combination on both sprouts and adult trees in a coppice-with-standards system one year after harvest. Materials and Methods: The experiment was carried out in the area of the Training Forest Enterprise Masaryk Forest Křtiny, Czech Republic, in a forest stand dominated by sessile oak and European hornbeam. We analyzed 132 oak polycormons, 132 hornbeam polycormons, and 163 oak standards. Results: The number of sprouts per stump was affected by the stump size and management practice: (A) coppice-with-standards, litter raking, and sheep grazing; (B) coppice-with-standards and sheep grazing; (C) coppice-with-standards and litter raking; and (D) coppice-with-standards), but not by tree species. The number of the sprouts as well as their height increased with the stump size. In contrast, grazing resulted in a smaller height of the sprouts while thinner sprouts were found under a combination of grazing and raking. When comparing the species, the oak sprouts were higher and thicker when compared to the hornbeam sprouts. The increment of standards increased after stand harvest. This, however, was not the result of grazing or raking, but the response to the reduction of tree number and thus of competition between neighboring trees. Conclusions: The results showed that there were rather negative impacts from the implemented traditional management practices on the growth of sprouts. This may lead to the question of whether ecological diversity resulting from the traditional practices may prevail their negative effect on the growth of the coppices.