The natural regeneration of Scottish oakwoods
Ancient semi-natural oakwoods have never been as intensively studied in Scotland as they have in England and Wales. The aim of this study was to assess the structure and regeneration status of a range of oakwoods throughout Scotland concentrating specifically on the effects of disturbance factors such as grazing regime and canopy gap size on the natural regeneration of oak (Quercus petraea (Matt.) Liebl. and Quercus robur L.). Specific factors affecting the natural regeneration of oak, such as seed predation, seed-bed treatment, insect herbivory, and competition from established ground vegetation were investigated by field experiments. It was found that all these factors contributed in some way to the failure of oak regeneration within the oakwood environment. Oak regeneration was only successful in open conditions such as Calluna vulgaris L. heath. The implications of these findings for oakwood management are discussed.