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Long-term effects of single-tree selection on the frequency and population structure of root and butt rot in uneven-sized Norway spruce stands

Metslaid, Marek, Granhus, Aksel, Scholten, Janneke, Fjeld, Dag, Solheim, Halvor
Forest ecology and management 2018 v.409 pp. 509-517
Armillaria, Heterobasidion, Picea abies, Stereum sanguinolentum, basal area, butt rot, clearcutting, decay fungi, harvesting, long term effects, population structure, probability, root rot, sanitation felling, selection criteria, soil, stumps, trees
The goal of this study was to assess the long-term effects of partial harvesting and supplementary soil scarification on the frequency of root and butt rot in managed uneven-sized Norway spruce stands. Frequency of rot and the population structure of the rot fungi were assessed on 1353 stumps after clear-cutting 21 years after a selection harvesting experiment. The initial experiment was comprised of three harvest strength (low, intermediate and high) of single-tree selection, removing approximately 25, 45 and 65% of the stand basal area. Uncut control plots were established at the same time. Supplementary soil scarification was applied in subplots within the single-tree selection plots, using a medium-sized excavator. After clear-cutting the stumps were analyzed with respect to rot caused by Heterobasidion parviporum, Armillaria spp., Stereum sanguinolentum as well as other rot fungi. Rot caused by Armillaria spp. was most common (8.6% of the stumps), while infection by H. parviporum (2.9%) or S. sanguinolentum (3.0%) was less frequent. The group “other rot” (5.4%) comprised 21 identified taxa, each occurring in 1–15 stumps. Significantly lower rot frequencies were found for the uncut control (16.3%) and intermediate harvest strength (15.7%), compared with low harvest strength (23.6%). A rot frequency of 21.0% was found in the high harvest strength. In two of three harvest strengths, the rot frequency was higher than for the uncut control. As the observed rot frequencies did not increase consistently with increasing harvest strength, the results do not completely support the initial expectations of increased rot after single-tree selection compared with the uncut control. However, since the probability of rot in individual stumps on plots treated with single-tree selection was significantly affected by the distance to the nearest strip road (H. parviporum) as well as dependent on the size of and distance to the nearest stump of trees cut during the experimental harvest (H. parviporum, S. sanguinolentum and total rot), it is evident that the single-tree selection harvesting was partially responsible for some of the observed rot. One of the selection criteria in the initial harvest was a sanitary removal of trees of poor vitality. Varying degrees of sanitation felling may therefore have offset the effects of new infections in wounds or spread of rot fungi through adjacent stumps. Supplementary soil scarification in small gaps of the residual stand had no significant effect on the frequency of rot, suggesting that such treatment may be used to facilitate regeneration in uneven-sized spruce stands on similar sites.