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Individual Highlight

Reintroducing the American chestnut tree begins with getting the light right

Photo of Planted American chestnut seedling in a thinning treatment (intermediate light-level treatment) on the Daniel Boone National Forest. Planted American chestnut seedling in a thinning treatment (intermediate light-level treatment) on the Daniel Boone National Forest. Snapshot : As efforts to breed a blight-resistant American chestnut tree progress, the Forest Service and its partners are researching how to reintroduce the species back into forested settings. Scientists are finding that getting the light right is an important piece of the puzzle.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Pinchot, Leila 
Research Location : The Daniel Boone National Forest
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2017
Highlight ID : 1245

Summary

Landscape-scale restoration of American chestnut requires understanding how to re-establish the species back into the forest successfully. Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Northern and Southern Research stations, the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and The American Chestnut Foundation partnered to evaluate how planted chestnuts survive, grow, and compete across several harvest treatments on the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky. The treatments varied in the amount of light that reached the forest floor, which affected how quickly competing vegetation grew. Research results demonstrate that while chestnuts grew fastest in the treatment with the most available light, so did naturally occurring vegetation. After three years, chestnuts were best able to compete with other woody vegetation in the harvest treatment that produced intermediate light levels, specifically a thinning. Additionally, the larger the chestnut seedling was at the time of planting, the better chance it had of competing with other vegetation. These results will help guide managers wishing to reintroduce this majestic tree back into eastern forests.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • The American Chestnut Foundation
  • The University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture

Strategic
Program Areas

Priority
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