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Long-term success of stump sprouts in high-graded baldcypress-water tupelo swamps in the Mississippi delta

Keim, R.F., Chambers, J.L., Hughes, M.S., Dimov, L.D., Conner, W.H., Shaffer, G.P., Gardiner, E.S., Day, J.W. Jr.
Forest ecology and management 2006 v.234 no.1-3 pp. 24
Taxodium distichum, Nyssa aquatica, forest trees, stumps, sprouting, forest regeneration, tree growth, tree mortality, swamps, tree and stand measurements, statistical analysis, lowland forests, Louisiana
Regeneration of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich.) and water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica L.) in swamps of the deltaic plain of the Mississippi River are of major importance for ecosystem sustainability and forest management in the context of regional hydrological changes. Water tupelo often forms prolific sprouts from cut stumps, and baldcypress is one of few conifers to produce stump sprouts capable of becoming full-grown trees. Previous studies have addressed early survival of baldcypress stump sprouts, but have not addressed the likelihood of sprouts becoming an important component of mature stands. We surveyed stands in southeastern Louisiana that were partially logged 10-41 years ago to determine if stump sprouts are an important mechanism of regeneration. At each site we inventoried stumps and measured stump height and diameter, presence and number of sprouts, sprout height, and water depth. We determined age and diameter growth rate for the largest sprout from each stump from increment cores. The majority of stumps did not have surviving sprouts. Baldcypress sprout survival was about the same (median 10%) as previously found for stumps up to 7 years old, so it appears that, although mortality is high soon after sprouting, it is low after age 10. Water tupelo sprouting was rare at our sites but it was not clear whether this may have been because trees were not cut at our sample locations. Baldcypress stump sprouts were more likely to survive on shorter, smaller-diameter stumps, and baldcypress sprout growth was greatest on drier sites with less competition from overstory trees. Surviving baldcypress stump sprouts had high growth rates, but were not regularly spatially distributed within stands and many had advancing decay from stumps into sprouts.