Contemporary status, distribution, and trends of mixedwoods in the northern United States
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Canadian Journal of Forest Research
As interest in managing and maintaining mixedwood forests in the northern United States (US) grows, so does the importance of understanding their abundance and distribution. We analyzed Forest Inventory and Analysis data for insights into mixedwood forests spanning 24 northern US states from Maine south to Maryland and westward to Kansas and North Dakota. Mixedwoods, i.e., forests with both hardwoods and softwoods present but neither exceeding 75%–80% of composition, comprise more than 19 million hectares and more than one-quarter of the northern US forest. They are most common in the Adirondack – New England, Laurentian, and Northeast ecological provinces but also occur elsewhere in hardwood-dominated ecological provinces. These mixtures are common even within forest types nominally categorized as either hardwood or softwood. The most common hardwoods within those mixtures were species of Quercus and Acer, and the most common softwoods were species of Pinus, Tsuga, and Juniperus. Although mixedwoods exhibited stability in total area during our analysis period, hardwood saplings were prominent, suggesting widespread potential for eventual shifts to hardwood dominance in the absence of disturbances that favor regeneration of the softwood component. Our analyses suggest that while most mixedwood plots remained mixedwoods, harvesting commonly shifts mixedwoods to either hardwood- or softwood-dominated cover types, but more specific information is needed to understand the causes of these shifts.
Keywordshardwood; softwood; deciduous; coniferous; Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA)
Vickers, Lance A.; Knapp, Benjamin O.; Kabrick, John M.; Kenefic, Laura S.; D’Amato, Anthony W.; Kern, Christel C.; MacLean, David A.; Raymond, Patricia; Clark, Kenneth L.; Dey, Daniel C.; Rogers, Nicole S. 2021. Contemporary status, distribution, and trends of mixedwoods in the northern United States. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 51(7): 881-896. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2020-0467.