• Restoration of American chestnut ( Castanea dentata ) bred for blight ( Cryphonectria parasitica ) resistance in the National Forest System • Analysis of tree-rings (i.e., dendrochronology) and stand structure to infer natural disturbance and successional processes in upland hardwood forests • Forest management strategies, including regeneration harvests, thinning, fire, and herbicide treatments, to restore or maintain oak species • Forest nursery production of oak ( Quercus ) species and American chestnut to examine genetic differences and methods to produce the highest quality seedling for planting • Determining the best forest management options for planting oak species in forests where natural oak regeneration is lacking • Examining genetic differences and environmental interactions in field performance of planted oak and American chestnut
importance of research
Through analysis of tree rings, historical documents, and stand inventory data, we have discovered that many oak forests are predicted to shift to non-oak species over time. These predicted changes will result in decreased tree diversity and forests will be less valuable to wildlife species if no management action is taken. Humans can maintain or restore oak species through active forest management. Competition for light is an important factor in oak restoration, as is presence of advanced oak regeneration prior to disturbance. Tree planting of oak seedlings can supplement natural oak regeneration is lacking. Seedlings for planting can be improved in through genetic selections and cultural practices. American chestnut ( Castanea dentata ) was once a prolific tree species in the eastern United States and was highly valued for its wood, nuts, and aesthetics. The tree has been virtually extirpated by exotic pathogens from Asia, most notably, the chestnut blight ( Cryphonectria parasitica ). Advancements in genetic breeding for resistance to blight are being achieved, but no strategy has been accepted for the best method to plant and maintain chestnut in natural forest communities where it once thrived. Technological advancements in commercial nursery production are in the early testing stages for this species. Early results indicate strategies for early success in planting American chestnut are similar to oak species: use high-quality seedlings, protect from deer, plant in high-light environments, and reduce hardwood competition. American chestnut appears to have fast growth after overcoming planting shock and is competitive with most native tree species; however non-native pests including root rot caused by Phythophthora cinnamomi , have negatively impacted planting success. Mitigation to for these pests are currently being tested.