Forest Composition, Regeneration, and Tree Quality in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia: Selective Cutting vs. Shelterwood


TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


This study compared the effects of selective cutting (SC) and the first shelterwood (SW) cut in oak (Quercus)-dominated forests of western Virginia. The specific attributes compared were: (1) tree species composition; (2) seedling, sapling, and overstory tree density; (3) overstory tree quality and size; (4) sapling crown class; and (5) canopy closure. Seedlings, saplings, and overstory trees were sampled at 22 SC and 28 SW sites. Significant differences identified between the two harvest types included: biodiversity of overstory and seedling layers; species densities for seedlings, saplings, and overstory trees; species composition across forest layers; and average canopy closure. Regeneration was poorer on SC than on SW, especially among oak species where SC oak seedling density averaged 5,651 stems ha-1 and SW oak seedling density averaged 9,843 stems ha-1. Selective cutting and SW may both contribute to mesophication of oak-dominated forests in the southern Appalachian Mountains; however, SC resulted in a higher percentage of mesic species post-harvest, and the SW tended to have more oak regeneration.



oak regeneration, selective cutting, shelterwood, high-grading, diameter-limit cut