Abstract Aim The character and distribution of American chestnut (Castanea dentata) populations in New England are analysed to identify the extent to which the introduced chestnut blight and historic land use practices have affected chestnut distribution and life history. Location The study focuses on chestnut in Connecticut and Massachusetts but includes analysis of data related to other Castanea species in North America and Europe. Methods The ecology and palaeoecology of chestnut is investigated using a range of techniques, including examination of the growth form of chestnut trees in plantations located away from blight, mapping of chestnut sprouts and blight‐killed trees at various locations, anatomical examination of chestnut stems, analysis of early forestry practices, identification of changes in the relative abundance of chestnut pollen in Holocene lake sediments and comparison of American chestnut with other Castanea species. Results Examination of chestnut sprouts surviving in the former range of that species shows that most sprouts originated from suppressed seedlings and that environmental factors severely limited the survival of sprouts from large blight‐killed trees. Palynological data show that chestnut was either present in very low populations or entirely absent from New England and only became abundant after about 2500 years ago. All factors suggest that chestnut abundance is related to the natural disturbance cycle, while human‐induced transformations of the landscape and the introduction of chestnut blight have further transformed the character of chestnut in New England. Main conclusions Most surviving chestnut sprouts in New England forests represent old seedlings that have continued to re‐sprout since establishment before the introduction of blight nearly 100 years ago. The growth form of these sprouts ensures a minimal substrate of bark tissue for blight establishment so that blight has a relatively minor effect on seedling–sprout survival. The identification of modern chestnut sprouts as old seedlings indicates that the observed distribution of sprouts in New England woodlands is strongly influenced by land use conditions and especially field abandonment at the time when chestnut blight arrived from its point of introduction.
Journal of Biogeography – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2002
It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.
Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.
All for just $49/month
Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly
Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.
Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.
Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.
All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.
“Hi guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this resource. Incredible. I really believe you've hit the nail on the head with this site in regards to solving the research-purchase issue.”Daniel C.
“Whoa! It’s like Spotify but for academic articles.”@Phil_Robichaud
“I must say, @deepdyve is a fabulous solution to the independent researcher's problem of #access to #information.”@deepthiw
“My last article couldn't be possible without the platform @deepdyve that makes journal papers cheaper.”@JoseServera