Ecology Colloquium Series - Identifying ecological and management factors that affect forest composition 10 years after an overstory removal in mixed-oak forests
Kelly Derham (Penn State)
Since the 1950’s a shift in tree species composition after a stand replacing disturbance has been documented for a large proportion of mixed oak forests in the Northeast. In such cases, oaks are abundant in the overstory before the disturbance but their relative importance decreases in the new stand. Many biotic and abiotic factors are involved, such as historical fire suppression, browsing pressure, and climate. In addition, in Pennsylvania’s managed mixed oak forests, species composition can also be influenced by the choice of management before and after the stand replacing disturbance. In this study, I will evaluate how several abiotic, biotic, and management variables characterizing the forest before and after an overstory removal interact to determine species composition 10 years after the disturbance. Of particular interest is to understand under which conditions oaks remain an important component of the stand after the overstory removal. Conditions before the overstory removal have been characterized for 100 forest stands and forest composition 10 years after the disturbance is being assessed in the field. I will present a summary of the study design and preliminary results from the first field season.