Mixedwood silviculture in north america: The science and art of managing for complex, multi-species temperate forests

Laura S. Kenefic, John M. Kabrick, Benjamin O. Knapp, Patricia Raymond, Kenneth L. Clark, Anthony W. D’amato, Christel C. Kern, Lance A. Vickers, Daniel C. Dey, Nicole S. Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Temperate mixedwoods (hardwood–softwood mixtures) in central and eastern United States and Canada can be classified into two overarching categories: those with shade-tolerant softwoods maintained by light to moderate disturbances and those with shade-intolerant to mid-tolerant softwoods maintained by moderate to severe disturbances. The former includes red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.), balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), or eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr.) in mixture with northern hardwood species; the latter includes pine (Pinus) – oak (Quercus) mixtures. Such forests have desirable socio-economic values, wildlife habitat potential, and (or) adaptive capacity, but management is challenging because one or more softwood species in each can be limited by depleted seed sources, narrow regeneration requirements, or poor competitive ability. Appropriate silvicultural systems vary among mixedwood compositions depending on shade tolerance and severity of disturbance associated with the limiting softwoods, site quality, and level of herbivory. Sustainability of mixedwood composition requires that stand structure and composition be managed at each entry to maintain vigorous trees of species with different growth rates and longevities and to encourage development of advance reproduction or seed-producing trees of desired species. Regardless of silvicultural system, maintaining seed sources of limiting softwoods, providing suitable germination substrates, and controlling competition are critical. Here, we describe commonalities among temperate mixedwoods in central and eastern North America and present a framework for managing them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-934
Number of pages14
JournalCanadian Journal of Forest Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Canadian Science Publishing. All rights reserved.


  • Deciduous–coniferous mixtures
  • Mixed-species forests
  • Shade tolerance
  • Silvicultural systems
  • Tree regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology


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