Restoring ponderosa pine in the Davis Mountains of west Texas: impacts of planting practices on seedling survivalThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
The ponderosa pine forests (Pinus ponderosa Laws.) in the Davis Mountains of west Texas recently experienced a major mortality event that resulted, in part, from profound regional drought predisposing trees and stands to mortality from both western pine beetle (Dendroctonus brevicomis) and wildfires. To evaluate alternatives for restoration and recovery, the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) initiated “Operation Ponderosa” in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), on the TNC Davis Mountains Preserve in Jeff Davis County, TX. The loss of overstory pines and lack of natural regeneration pose a considerable challenge to management. A pilot study was commisioned to investigate artificial regeneration of ponderosa pine using containerized seedlings and site preparation alternatives. Early survival was poor, mainly due to below-ground herbivory, which was identified as the principal short-term obstacle to artificial regeneration in the Davis Mountains. The larger question of ponderosa pine recovery, particularly if local climatic conditions become increasingly unfavorable, remains.