MTRI is a non-profit co-operative with a mandate to promote sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity conservation in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve and beyond through research, education, and the operation of a field station.
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Red oak trees play a significant role in the Acadian Forest, providing both food and shelter for a diversity of wildlife. Monitoring Red oak plots in Kejimkujik over the past few years has shown poor levels of regeneration. Some of the contributing factors to the disturbance of Red oaks in the Acadian Forest likely include past forestry practices, natural stand succession and suppression of forest fires. Other contributing factors that may have altered Red oak regeneration and distribution also include browsing by White-tailed deer, acorn predation and stress from defoliators. The purpose of this work is to assess the health of mixed-wood stands containing Red oak and to determine appropriate sites for Red oak regeneration experiments both inside and outside Kejimkujik. These proposed experiments will help build a better understanding of management techniques to be used in Kejimkujik and other parts of the Acadian Forest region.
To monitor hardwood, especially Red oak, regeneration over a 10-year period within permanently marked transects and determine the impact White-tailed deer have on Red oak regeneration.
To monitor Red oak and other hardwood species that are within White-tailed deer exclosures which protect hardwood seedlings and saplings from browsing by large herbivores.
To assess defoliation damage inflicted on mature Red oaks by the Oak leaf shredder and Oak leaf roller.
To assess changes in Cancer root (parasitic on Red oak) populations within control and prescribed burn sites.
Photo Credits: Jane Barker
Tree species regeneration was estimated along belt transects of 150 x 2 m by counting tree species in various height classes both in control sites and treatment (prescribed burn) sites in five locations within the park.
Data was collected at the beginning and at each 50 m interval along the transect by estimating standing living volume with a prism sweep, estimating canopy cover, noting ground vegetation and taking photos of north, east, south and west aspects.
Red oak defoliation was estimated visually in the canopy of mature oaks within the belt transects.
Trees species, their height classes and any browsing were noted within 42 deer exclosures in seven locations, with both control and treatment sites, within and outside of Kejimkujik.
Cancer root clumps were noted and counted where present along transects and within exclosures.
Photo Credits: Jane Barker
Preliminary analysis of pre- and post-burn data has demonstrated the prescribed burn area is succeeding toward a Red maple and Witch hazel uplands forest and that White pine seedlings and saplings are significantly reduced.
Data from transects showed that Red oaks experienced on average about 39% defoliation in years prior to 2012, but only about 9% in 2012 - 2014 suggesting a recession in recent Oak leaf roller and Oak leaf skeletonizer outbreaks.
Transect data to date showed a significant decline (down to 12%) in browsed Red oak saplings in 2014 compared with the last two years, which peaked at over 75% in 2012. This corresponds with the recent spike and fall, in 2013 and 2014 respectively, in the number of deer observed within Kejimkujik.
Exclosure data dating back to 2011 did not show any significant changes or increases in Red oak seedlings, which is likely an indication of the importace of the long-term nature of this research initiative and the many factors (e.g. Red oak acorn bumper crop frequency, insect defoliation stress) in play.
The number of Cancer root clumps showed a slight increase in both the prescribed burn and control transects at the McGinty Lake Road site and showed a slight decrease on both transects at the Eel Weir Road site. However, due to fluctuations in the number of plants to date and other variables, it is not yet possible to establish a link between forest surface fires and the persistence of this rare parasitic plant species.
Ongoing project since 2006
Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute