Do forest health threats affect upland oak regeneration and recruitment? Advance reproduction is a key co-morbidity

Lance A. Vickers, Benjamin O. Knapp, Daniel C. Dey, Lauren S. Pile Knapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We analyzed national forest inventory data collected from circa 2000–2018 across 37 states in the eastern United States to better understand the influence of forest health related canopy disturbances on the regeneration and recruitment dynamics of upland oaks (Quercus). We found low levels of oak recruitment across all disturbance types examined but limited evidence of any direct effects from the type of disturbance on the population of regenerating oaks. The general lack of differences in oak regeneration response between forest health disturbances and disturbances caused by harvested or non-disturbed plots does not indicate that the effects of forest health disturbances were benign, however. Instead, low level of oak recruitment across all disturbance types highlights the pervasiveness of the trend of shifting composition in once oak-dominated forests where oak is absent or sparse in the regeneration layer. Our results show that oak recruitment was higher when oak was present as advance reproduction prior to disturbance from any cause examined. Collectively, these results lead us to conclude that the widespread inadequacy of oak advance reproduction in mature oak-dominated forests is the prevailing threat to oak forest health and sustainability. We suggest the status of advance reproduction be treated as a co-morbidity when weighing the risk and potential outcomes from other threats to upland oak forests in the eastern United States.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100152
JournalForest Ecosystems
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Disease
  • Forest inventory and analysis
  • Forest pests
  • Harvesting
  • Insect
  • Oak/hickory
  • Regeneration ecology
  • Temperate deciduous forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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