Vegetation patterns in heterogeneous landscapes: The importance of history and environment

Vegetation patterns in heterogeneous landscapes: The importance of history and environment Abstract. Throughout the eastern United States, plant species distributions and community patterns have developed in response to heterogeneous environmental conditions and a wide range of historical factors, including complex histories of natural and anthropogenic disturbance. Despite increased recognition of the importance of disturbance in determining forest composition and structure, few studies have assessed the relative influence of current environment and historical factors on modern vegetation, in part because detailed knowledge of prior disturbance is often lacking. In the present study, we investigate modern and historical factors that control vegetation patterns at Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts, USA. Similar to the forested uplands throughout the northeastern United States, the site is physiographically heterogeneous and has a long and complex history of natural and anthropogenic disturbance. However, data on forest composition and disturbance history collected over the past > 90 years allow us to evaluate the importance of historical factors rigorously, which is rarely possible on other sites. Soil analyses and historical sources document four categories of historical land use on areas that are all forested today: cultivated fields, improved pastures/mowings, unimproved pastures, and continuously forested woodlots. Ordination and logistic regressions indicate that although species have responded individualistically to a wide range of environmental and disturbance factors, many species are influenced by three factors: soil drainage, land use history, and C:N ratios. Few species vary in accordance with ionic gradients, damage from the 1938 hurricane, or a 1957 fire. Contrary to our expectation that the effects of disturbance will diminish over time, historical land use predicts 1992 vegetation composition better than 1937 composition, perhaps because historical woodlots have become increasingly differentiated from post‐agricultural stands through the 20th century. Interpretations of modern vegetation must consider the importance of historical factors in addition to current environmental conditions. However, because disturbances such as land use practices and wind damage are complex, it is often difficult to detect disturbance effects using multivariate approaches, even when the broad history of disturbance is known. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Vegetation Science Wiley

Vegetation patterns in heterogeneous landscapes: The importance of history and environment

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
1999 IAVS ‐ the International Association of Vegetation Science
ISSN
1100-9233
eISSN
1654-1103
D.O.I.
10.2307/3237315
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract. Throughout the eastern United States, plant species distributions and community patterns have developed in response to heterogeneous environmental conditions and a wide range of historical factors, including complex histories of natural and anthropogenic disturbance. Despite increased recognition of the importance of disturbance in determining forest composition and structure, few studies have assessed the relative influence of current environment and historical factors on modern vegetation, in part because detailed knowledge of prior disturbance is often lacking. In the present study, we investigate modern and historical factors that control vegetation patterns at Harvard Forest in central Massachusetts, USA. Similar to the forested uplands throughout the northeastern United States, the site is physiographically heterogeneous and has a long and complex history of natural and anthropogenic disturbance. However, data on forest composition and disturbance history collected over the past > 90 years allow us to evaluate the importance of historical factors rigorously, which is rarely possible on other sites. Soil analyses and historical sources document four categories of historical land use on areas that are all forested today: cultivated fields, improved pastures/mowings, unimproved pastures, and continuously forested woodlots. Ordination and logistic regressions indicate that although species have responded individualistically to a wide range of environmental and disturbance factors, many species are influenced by three factors: soil drainage, land use history, and C:N ratios. Few species vary in accordance with ionic gradients, damage from the 1938 hurricane, or a 1957 fire. Contrary to our expectation that the effects of disturbance will diminish over time, historical land use predicts 1992 vegetation composition better than 1937 composition, perhaps because historical woodlots have become increasingly differentiated from post‐agricultural stands through the 20th century. Interpretations of modern vegetation must consider the importance of historical factors in addition to current environmental conditions. However, because disturbances such as land use practices and wind damage are complex, it is often difficult to detect disturbance effects using multivariate approaches, even when the broad history of disturbance is known.

Journal

Journal of Vegetation ScienceWiley

Published: Dec 1, 1999

References

  • Positive interactions in plant communities and the individualistic‐continuum concept
    Callaway, Callaway
  • Soil carbon and nitrogen in a pine‐oak sand plain in central Massachusetts: role of vegetation and land use history
    Compton, Compton; Boone, Boone; Motzkin, Motzkin; Foster, Foster
  • Effects of the past and present on species distributions: land use history and demography of wintergreen
    Donohue, Donohue; Foster, Foster; Motzkin, Motzkin
  • Vegetation differentiation and secondary succession on a limestone hill in southern Poland
    Dzwonko, Dzwonko; Loster, Loster
  • Study of spatial components of forest cover using partial Mantel tests and path analysis
    Leduc, Leduc; Drapeau, Drapeau; Bergeron, Bergeron; Legendre, Legendre
  • Effects of fire size and pattern on early succession in Yellowstone National Park
    Turner, Turner; Romme, Romme; Gardner, Gardner; Hargrove, Hargrove
  • Gradient analysis of vegetation
    Whittaker, Whittaker

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