Regeneration dynamics of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) in artificially created gaps

Louise McBean Page, Andrew David Cameron

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37 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined the variation in the development of naturally regenerated and planted seedlings of Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr.) within gaps cut in a 32-year-old stand of the same species. The circular gaps were 20 m in diameter and designed to allow sunlight into only half of the gap floor at midsummer given the latitude of 56 degrees 45'N. Eight plots (8 m x 3 m) were laid out along a north-south transect through each gap (four within the gap and two each under the closed canopy north and south of the gap). Each plot was sub-divided and seedlings were planted into one part and the other part was left to naturally regenerate. In subsequent seasons, plots were further subdivided into 'weed free' and 'vegetation left untouched'. Results showed that while the two central plots within the gaps had the highest value of canopy openness, the highest accumulated temperature and lowest soil moisture were recorded in plots that received direct sunlight. However, level of germination was significantly higher in the shaded area of the gap than in the part that received direct sunshine suggesting that higher moisture levels in shaded areas are important to successful germination. Minimal germination was recorded in the plots beneath the canopy. Seedling survival was significantly influenced by the influx of competing vegetation, but only in the part of the gaps that received direct sunlight. The success of Sitka spruce regeneration within gaps appears to depend on sufficient moisture and light to support regeneration and early growth, but not too much light to encourage the development of competing vegetation. The permanently shaded areas of the gaps appeared to offer ground conditions with sufficient moisture and light to ensure successful germination and early growth of seedlings, but without excessive competition from other vegetation. (c) 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-266
Number of pages6
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2006


  • Sitka spruce
  • forest gaps
  • natural regeneration
  • tropical forests
  • light
  • understory
  • density
  • establishment
  • canopies
  • hemlock
  • Britain
  • stands
  • size


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