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Effects of Soil Fungi on Tree Seedling Establishment in a Southeastern Coastal Plain Forest
Effects of fungi and overstory composition on tree seedling survival and growth were investigated in closed canopy upland forests in the coastal plain of South Carolina. Seedlings of Quercus alba, Cornus florida and Pinus taeda were planted in the understory of two forest types -naturally regenerated hardwood and planted pine. Fungal species composition and biomass were experimentally manipulated with a treatment of the fungicide captan.
In contrast with other studies conducted in different systems (sand dune, grassland, and old field), the effects of soil fungi were minor in a closed canopy forest. Only Q. alba showed a significant response to the fungicide (p < 0.05) treatment with increased growth.
Overstory composition had no significant effect on growth or survival for any of the species. Both of the commercially desirable species (Q. alba and P. taeda) had reasonable survival ( @ 60%). Both also maintained positive, though modest, growth. This suggests that an advance regeneration pool could be established successfully by artificial regeneration.