Stand Dynamics in an Old-Growth Hardwood Forest in Southern Illinois, USA
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Natural Areas Journal. 22(3): 211-219.
Kaskaskia Woods, a 7.4-ha old-growth hardwood forest in southern Illinois, USA, has been managed as a natural area and protected from disturbance since 1933. In 1935, eight 0.1-ha plots were installed and all trees 4 cm dbh or larger were tagged and inventoried. Trees were remeasured for survival, ingrowth (new trees >4 cm), and diameter (dbh) in 1940, 1958, 1965, 1973, 1978, 1983, and 1997. Stand basal area steadily increased from 22.7 m2 ha-1 in 1935 to 34.3 m2 ha-1 in 1997. Less than 25% of the trees alive in 1935 were still alive in 1997. For oaks and hickories, density drastically declined from 338 trees ha-1 to 81 trees ha-1, while relative basal area was reduced somewhat (from 56.2% to 50.2%) during the same period. Recruitment of oak (Quercus L. spp.) and hickory (Carya Nutt. spp.) has failed because no ingrowth survives. In contrast, sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) became the most numerous species (increasing from 156 to 346 trees ha-1) and second greatest in basal area (6.9 m2 ha-1) by 1997. However, low survival of the most recent sugar maple ingrowth cohort suggests that additional recruitment of this species may be limited. From 1935 to 1997, diversity, as measured by the Shannon index, declined and richness dropped from 26 to 20 tree species. In the coming decades, without disturbance, it appears likely that sugar maple will become more dominant in the natural area and that oak, hickory, or other associated species will continue to decline or perhaps totally disappear from this protected forest.
Zaczek, James J.; Groninger, John W.; Van Sambeek, J. W. 2002. Stand Dynamics in an Old-Growth Hardwood Forest in Southern Illinois, USA. Natural Areas Journal 22(3):211-219