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Date of Graduation
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Biology
Conley K McMullen
Extensive resources have been used to breed hybrid chestnuts for reintroduction into the historical range of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata). Improving seedling quality is an efficacious method to improving restoration outcomes and nursery propagation methods can be selected to improve seedling quality, increasing the likelihood of survival. Four production methods (bed grown, air prune beds, container grown, and the Root Production Method®) and three media types (field soil, peat-perlite-vermiculite mix, and pine bark-rice hulls-sand mix) were compared across four measures of seedling quality (height, root collar diameter, root volume, and number of first order lateral roots) to examine their effects on seedling quality. The predictive power of seed weight and height and diameter at sixty days on final seedling quality was analyzed to determine if these early measurements could be used to identify more robust seedlings early in the season to best allocate resources. Additional analysis of chlorophyll content, survival, and cost per seedling were conducted as well. Air prune beds performed comparably in both seedling quality and cost to standard bed grown and container grown seedlings with potential advantages over these two methods. Root Production Method® seedlings underperformed compared to bed grown and container grown seedlings. Seed weight and height at sixty days were predictive of all measures of seedling quality, while diameter at 60 days did not add additional predictive power to our model. A decision tree was produced to assist nurseries in selecting a method most appropriate to their intended restoration site and constraints.
Evans, Taylor, "Comparing the Effect of Four Propagation Techniques on Hybrid Chestnut Seedling Quality" (2021). Masters Theses, 2020-current. 95.