Past and Present Forest Composition and Natural History of Deep Woods, Hocking County, Ohio

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Deep Woods, a 114-ha private preserve in Hocking County, OH, is the site of an all taxa biotic inventory (ATBI) coordinated by the Ohio Biological Survey. Here we describe the forest vegetation and natural history of the site and evaluate the role of human disturbance in structuring the regional landscape. Due to various abiotic factors, the area offers a diversity of habitats and species. The bedrock geology consists of sedimentary rock from the Mississippian and Pennsylvanian formations with alluvial deposits along a riparian corridor. At least three soil orders are represented: alfisols, inceptisols, and ultisols. As is typical of most of unglaciated Ohio, the forests here have been subjected to a long history of anthropogenic disturbance. The first inhabitants of the area were ancient moundbuilders (ca. 2500 YBP). During the 1700s, Shawnee and Delaware groups resided throughout the county. Anglo settlers drove all Native American groups out of the area by the early 1800s. The original land survey data (1801) suggested that the dominant vegetation at Deep Woods was composed of Quercus alba, Q. velutina, Carya spp., and Cornus florida (relative importance value, RIV = 34, 13, 12, 11%, respectively). Tax records show that Anglo-ownership of the property dates from the mid-1830s. County death records indicate occupations of 19th century landowners primarily as farmers. Dominant vegetation types include: hydric floodplain, mesic upland, and xeric ridgetop. Betula nigra, Carpinus caroliniana, Ulmus americana, andLiriodendron tulipifera (RIV = 16, 11, 11, 10%) dominate the floodplain. Whereas L. tulipifera, Acer saccharum, andB. alleghaniensis (RIV = 21, 15, 11%) and A rubrum, Q. prinus, and Q. alba (RIV= 27, 13, 9%) dominate the upland and ridgetop, respectively. Several other minor habitats also exist such as pasture fields, hemlock ravines, sandstone outcrops, and rockhouse formations. We conclude that the present species composition resembles the 1801 land survey, even though the post settlement disturbances were different than Native American disturbance regimes.


Author Institution: Department of Environmental and Plant Biology, Ohio University



The Ohio Journal of Science. v103, n3 (June, 2003), 42-51