The University of Arizona

The effect of Quercus douglasii removal on understory yield and composition.

J.W. Bartolome, B.H. Allen-Diaz, W.D. Tietje

Abstract


The canopy of Quercus douglasii H. & A. (blue oak) has been variously reported to enhance or suppress understory production. The effects of canopy removal have been reported only for the northern portion of blue oak's range. We removed all blue oaks from 6 plots in the central coast of California and found no significant change in understory biomass over 3 years. Understory herb cover averaged 32.6% on cleared plots, compared to 24.3% on uncut plots, but composition changed little with the exception of an increase in Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Her. Clearing did not produce the distinctive species composition and forage enhancement under Q. douglasii canopy reported in other studies, an based on comparisons between unmanipulated canopy and adjacent grassland. Our results suggest that the canopy effect could instead be caused by differences in sites occupied by trees. Clearing of Q. douglasii in regions with 50 cm or less of mean annual precipitation is not recommended for increasing forage production.

Keywords


production;microenvironments;plant interaction;understory;Quercus douglasii;rain;California;biomass;botanical composition;canopy;forage

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