Relationship of Oak Seedling Height and Diameter with Bottomland Elevation

Hardwood bottomland restoration is an expanding conservation practice in the southeastern United States. Understanding relative flood tolerance of bottomland seedlings is important to restoration success. Thus, we related height and diameter of Quercus phellos, Q. nuttallii, and Q. lyrata to elevation gradient in a 6-ha west Tennessee bottomland. We planted 3,771 seedlings from January-March 2004 in a randomized design such that all species had spatial representation across elevation gradients. Seedling height and root-collar diameter were measured in October and November 2004, and related to bottomland elevation using linear regression. Heights of Q. phellos and Q. nuttallii seedlings were positively related with elevation; no linear relationship was apparent for Q. lyrata. Root-collar diameter also positively correlated with elevation for Q. nuttallii. Our results suggest that Q. lyrata seedlings may be most flood tolerant among these species. Managers may consider planting Q. lyrata in bottomlands at lower elevations, and Q. nuttallii and Q. phellos at intermediate to higher elevations. Key words: Q. lyrata, Q. nuttallii, Q. phellos, flood tolerance, hardwood bottomland, oak seedlings, restoration, wetlands

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