Background: Research on herbaceous vegetation restoration in forests characterised by overstorey tree harvests, excessive deer herbivory, and a dominant fern understorey is lacking. Most of the plant diversity found in Eastern hardwood forests in the United States is found in the herbaceous understorey layer. Loss of forest herbaceous species is an indicator of declining forest conditions. Aims: The combined effects of deer herbivory, competitive understorey vegetation removal, and overstorey tree removal on the abundance and reproductive capacity of three understorey herbs in the Liliaceae family were evaluated. Methods: A split-plot randomised block design was used with three replicates. Treatments included three harvest intensities, fenced/unfenced, herbicide/no herbicide-treated, prescribed burn/no prescribed burn, and all combinations. A generalised linear model was used to compare treatment effects over 8 years. Results: Both fruit production and cover increased significantly in fenced areas for all three species. There was a significant 6-year recovery period for cover of the three species in response to herbicide. There was a significant 4-year recovery period of fire-treated plots for fruit production of the three species. The most intensively cut, fenced, and herbicide-treated plots had the greatest increases in sapling and Rubus spp. cover. Cover and fruit production of the three herbs were significantly greatest in the moderate-cut treatment. Conclusions: Restoration of these three liliaceous species is most likely to occur in Eastern deciduous forests and similar forests using a combined fenced and moderate-cut treatment.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Plant Science