Natural conifer regeneration patterns in temperate forests across the Inland Northwest, USA

  • Chenchen ShenEmail author
  • Andrew S. Nelson
Research Paper


Key message

Natural regeneration patterns of conifer species were studied. Seedling regeneration follows patterns responding to stand structure and site condition factors along shade and drought tolerance gradients. Our findings can assist in adaptive forest management for maintaining sustainable regeneration and plant biodiversity.


Seedling regeneration can vary with stand factors of overstory trees and understory non-tree vegetation and site conditions.


Natural seedling regeneration patterns of coniferous species were investigated using Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) data of 10 common species across the Inland Northwest, USA.


Zero-inflated negative binomial models were developed to understand the responses of natural regeneration to stand factors and site conditions.


Seedling occurrence varies along shade and drought tolerance gradients responding to stand structure and site conditions. Two moderate shade-tolerant species of different drought tolerance contributed as a transition. Strong response patterns were revealed for seedling density, in which seedling density was improved with the presence of conspecific trees while limited by competition, especially from the understory vegetation layer.


Overstory structure and understory vegetation could improve or hinder natural regeneration of coniferous tree species given different shade tolerance and site conditions. Our findings can be effectively implemented in adaptive forest management for maintaining sustainable regeneration of specific conifers in broad temperate mixed forests.


Natural regeneration pattern Coniferous tree species Stand structure Understory non-tree vegetation Site conditions Forest Inventory and Analysis 



The authors would like to sincerely thank FIA for sharing sampling data and Dr. John Shaw for the help in maximum stand density index calculation. The efforts of editors and anonymous reviewers are highly appreciated.


This material is based upon work that is supported by the University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, US Department of Agriculture, McIntire Stennis project under accession number 1008381.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest, Rangeland, and Fire SciencesUniversity of IdahoMoscowUSA

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