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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Birch establishes anywhere! So, what is there to know about natural regeneration and direct seeding of birch?

Lidman, Felicia Dahlgren; Karlsson, Matts; Lundmark, Tomas; Sangstuvall, Lars; Holmstrom, Emma


We tested three soil scarification approaches of varying intensity (intensive preparation exposing bare mineral soil, medium intensity with a mixture of organic material and mineral soil, and control without site preparation) on six clear-felled sites in two localities in northern and central Sweden between 2018 and 2021. The effect of soil scarification intensity and soil moisture on the occurrence of naturally regenerated birch seedlings was tested one, two and three years after soil scarification, and the density of direct-seeded birch seedlings one year after seeding. In addition, we tested the effect of the annual seed rain, and differences between the two birch species, on the density of direct-seeded seedlings. Soil scarification and its interaction with soil moisture had a significant positive effect on both the occurrence of naturally regenerated birch seedlings and the density of direct-seeded birch seedlings. There was no significant effect of neither annual natural seed rain nor species choice on direct-seeded seedling density. Time since soil scarification had a significant effect on the occurrence of naturally regenerated birch seedlings. In moist soils with high volumetric water content (>= 28%), birch seeds germinate at high rates and seedlings survive without soil scarification. In mesic soils, birch seeds germinate with higher rates after soil scarification. In dry soils, birch seeds rarely germinate regardless of any disturbance of the humus layer.


Betula pendula; Betula pubescens; Natural regeneration; Direct seeding; Soil moisture; Soil scarification

Published in

New Forests
2024, Volume: 55, number: 1, pages: 157-171
Publisher: SPRINGER