Composition and Structure of Two Old-growth Forest Ecosystem Types of Southeastern Ohio
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Citation:The Ohio Journal of Science, v105, n2 (April 2005), 8-16.
Less than 1% of the pre-European settlement forest in Ohio currently remains, mostly as small and scattered woodlots. Consequently, few studies have been undertaken to quantify the composition and structure of Ohio’s old-growth forests using a landscape ecosystem perspective. We used an existing multifactor ecosystem classification system developed for the Wayne National Forest in southeastern Ohio to compare the composition and structure of two old-growth forest ecosystem types, located on contrasting north-facing and south-facing middle slopes. No differences in physiography were observed among the stands other than aspect; however, the north-facing old-growth ecosystem type had a greater A horizon thickness and a higher pH than the south-facing old-growth ecosystem type. Mixed-oaks dominate the south-facing ecosystem type, while sugar maple, American beech and northern red oak dominate the north-facing ecosystem type. No differences were detected in stand structural components. Similar trends were observed for the ground-flora layer; specifically, we observed differences in groundflora composition between the two ecosystem types but no differences in total percent cover or species richness. Finally, the composition and structure of coarse woody debris differed between the contrasting ecosystem types. Maple and oak snags and fallen logs dominate the north-facing ecosystem while oak standing snags and fallen stems are typically observed in the south-facing ecosystem. Few differences between the two ecosystem types were detected in coarse woody debris structure, except that snag density tends to be higher in the south-facing old-growth ecosystem and log density and volume tends to be higher in the north-facing ecosystem (P <0.10). Through the use of this ecosystem approach, we can begin to quantify the ecological factors regulating the composition and structure of old-growth communities, improving our ability to effectively manage and restore these rare ecosystems.
Author Institution: School of Natural Resources, Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, The Ohio State University
Rights:Reproduction of articles for non-commercial educational or research use granted without request if credit to The Ohio State University and The Ohio Academy of Science is given.
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