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Reconstructing Vegetation Past: Pre-Euro-American Vegetation for the Midwest Driftless Area, USA

Reconstructing Vegetation Past: Pre-Euro-American Vegetation for the Midwest Driftless Area, USA RESEARCH ARTICLE Monika E. Shea, Lisa A. Schulte and Brian J. Palik ABSTRACT Historical reference conditions provide important context for creating ecological restoration and management plans. The U.S. 19th Century Public Land Survey (PLS) records provide extensive ecological information for constructing such reference conditions. We used PLS records to reconstruct pre-Euro-American tree species cover class and vegetation structure types for the Midwest Driftless Area, a 55,000 km2 region currently experiencing multiple conservation threats. We related cover classes to soil texture, topographic roughness, and distance from waterway. Our analyses revealed that the landscape of the Driftless Area was mostly composed of savanna, with two large patches of closed forest and smaller, scattered patches of closed forest, open woodland, and prairie. The Driftless Area was heavily dominated by a variety of oak communities, with bur (Quercus macrocarpa), white (Q. alba), and black (Q. velutina) oak by far the most dominant species across the region. A variety of non-oak communities occurred within the closed forest patches, along rivers, or in smaller areas near the periphery of the region. The prevalence of savanna and oak communities indicates that fire played a key role in mediating historical landscape patterns and ecosystem processes in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Ecological Restoration University of Wisconsin Press

Reconstructing Vegetation Past: Pre-Euro-American Vegetation for the Midwest Driftless Area, USA

Ecological Restoration , Volume 32 (4) – Nov 3, 2014

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
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1543-4079
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Abstract

RESEARCH ARTICLE Monika E. Shea, Lisa A. Schulte and Brian J. Palik ABSTRACT Historical reference conditions provide important context for creating ecological restoration and management plans. The U.S. 19th Century Public Land Survey (PLS) records provide extensive ecological information for constructing such reference conditions. We used PLS records to reconstruct pre-Euro-American tree species cover class and vegetation structure types for the Midwest Driftless Area, a 55,000 km2 region currently experiencing multiple conservation threats. We related cover classes to soil texture, topographic roughness, and distance from waterway. Our analyses revealed that the landscape of the Driftless Area was mostly composed of savanna, with two large patches of closed forest and smaller, scattered patches of closed forest, open woodland, and prairie. The Driftless Area was heavily dominated by a variety of oak communities, with bur (Quercus macrocarpa), white (Q. alba), and black (Q. velutina) oak by far the most dominant species across the region. A variety of non-oak communities occurred within the closed forest patches, along rivers, or in smaller areas near the periphery of the region. The prevalence of savanna and oak communities indicates that fire played a key role in mediating historical landscape patterns and ecosystem processes in

Journal

Ecological RestorationUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Nov 3, 2014

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