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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 419482, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2010/419482
Research Article

Seed Bank Variation under Contrasting Site Quality Conditions in Mixed Oak Forests of Southeastern Ohio, USA

1Department of Biology, Radford University, Radford, P.O. Box 6931, VA 24142, USA
2Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA

Received 31 August 2009; Accepted 3 February 2010

Academic Editor: Marc D. Abrams

Copyright © 2010 Christine J. Small and Brian C. McCarthy. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Seed bank composition was sampled in 192–2.5  quadrats, established in six regenerating clearcut ( 7 years) and six second-growth ( 125 years) mixed-oak forest stands in southeastern Ohio. Seed bank and aboveground composition diverged markedly (Sørensen's coefficient <10%), emphasizing the importance of fast-growing, early-successional germinants to early ecosystem recovery. Seed richness was significantly ( ) higher in clearcut stands, suggesting declining richness with stand age. Richness estimations 28%–60% higher than observed values demonstrated high seed bank heterogeneity, emphasizing the need for intensive sampling to assess temperate forest seed bank variation. Site quality (topographic aspect) strongly influenced seed bank composition, with greater importance of early-successional trees, thicket-forming shrubs, and nonnative species on mesic sites. Thus, forest seed banks are likely to play an important, site-dependent role in shaping competitive environments for commercially important timber species after harvesting and soil disturbance and have the potential for marked influence on postharvest forest development.