Physiographical and historical effects on forest vegetation in central New England, USA

Physiographical and historical effects on forest vegetation in central New England, USA Aim Land‐use history can be an important determinant of ecosystem characteristics, even in landscapes that outwardly appear ‘natural’. In New England, like much of the eastern United States, the natural reforestation of agricultural lands over the past 150 years has created a predominantly forested landscape. Understanding the physiographical and historical factors controlling forest structure and composition is a major challenge to ecologists, conservationists and land managers. Location We studied the forest structure and composition of Petersham, Massachusetts, which is located in the Central Upland physiographical province of New England. Like much of New England, Petersham was largely cleared for agriculture by the mid‐1800s, but most of the agricultural fields were abandoned and naturally reforested in the late‐1800s and early 1900s. The modern landscape is > 90% forested by a mosaic of primary and secondary woodlands. Methods At seventy‐four randomly selected 0.04‐ha plots, we measured the abundances of all vascular plants in the overstory and understory and nine physiographical and historical variables. Results Species richness was primarily related to landform: species‐rich communities occurred in poorly drained basins and species‐poor communities occurred on well‐drained glacial outwash. Distributions of the sixty‐nine most common species were associated with (in order of importance) landform, past land use and elevation. Many species were restricted to specific physiographical conditions, but no species were restricted to specific past land uses. Nine plant associations identified by two‐way indicator species analysis were associated with elevation, landform, soil texture and past land use. Ordination by canonical correspondence analysis indicated that the vegetation reflected two principal gradients: a physiographical gradient, defined by landform and soil texture, and a land‐use gradient. Main conclusions These analyses suggest the following ranking of factors controlling forest structure and composition in this landscape at this time: landform > agricultural history > elevation > hurricane = fire = logging. Even in this physically heterogenous landscape, land‐use history continues to play an important role in shaping forest vegetation 100–150 years after agricultural abandonment and reforestation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Biogeography Wiley

Physiographical and historical effects on forest vegetation in central New England, USA

Journal of Biogeography, Volume 29 (10‐11) – Oct 1, 2002

Loading next page...
 
/lp/wiley/physiographical-and-historical-effects-on-forest-vegetation-in-central-r0C2H5Rsf9
Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 Wiley Subscription Services, Inc., A Wiley Company
ISSN
0305-0270
eISSN
1365-2699
D.O.I.
10.1046/j.1365-2699.2002.00763.x
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Aim Land‐use history can be an important determinant of ecosystem characteristics, even in landscapes that outwardly appear ‘natural’. In New England, like much of the eastern United States, the natural reforestation of agricultural lands over the past 150 years has created a predominantly forested landscape. Understanding the physiographical and historical factors controlling forest structure and composition is a major challenge to ecologists, conservationists and land managers. Location We studied the forest structure and composition of Petersham, Massachusetts, which is located in the Central Upland physiographical province of New England. Like much of New England, Petersham was largely cleared for agriculture by the mid‐1800s, but most of the agricultural fields were abandoned and naturally reforested in the late‐1800s and early 1900s. The modern landscape is > 90% forested by a mosaic of primary and secondary woodlands. Methods At seventy‐four randomly selected 0.04‐ha plots, we measured the abundances of all vascular plants in the overstory and understory and nine physiographical and historical variables. Results Species richness was primarily related to landform: species‐rich communities occurred in poorly drained basins and species‐poor communities occurred on well‐drained glacial outwash. Distributions of the sixty‐nine most common species were associated with (in order of importance) landform, past land use and elevation. Many species were restricted to specific physiographical conditions, but no species were restricted to specific past land uses. Nine plant associations identified by two‐way indicator species analysis were associated with elevation, landform, soil texture and past land use. Ordination by canonical correspondence analysis indicated that the vegetation reflected two principal gradients: a physiographical gradient, defined by landform and soil texture, and a land‐use gradient. Main conclusions These analyses suggest the following ranking of factors controlling forest structure and composition in this landscape at this time: landform > agricultural history > elevation > hurricane = fire = logging. Even in this physically heterogenous landscape, land‐use history continues to play an important role in shaping forest vegetation 100–150 years after agricultural abandonment and reforestation.

Journal

Journal of BiogeographyWiley

Published: Oct 1, 2002

References

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

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

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

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.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off