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Relating land-use history and climate to the dendroecology of a 326-year-old Quercus prinus

Summary: Relating land-use history and climate to the
dendroecology of a 326-year-old Quercus prinus
talus slope forest
Charles M. Ruffner and Marc D. Abrams
Abstract: Dendroecology and land-use history were used to investigate the ecological history of a 326-year-old Quercus
prinus L. forest. Quercus prinus, Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh., and Pinus rigida Mill. dominated this talus slope prior to
European settlement based on witness tree records. Oak species have exhibited continuous recruitment over three centuries
probably in response to periodic fire and wind disturbances. While the stand escaped the direct impacts of timber cutting and
the charcoal iron industry, the indirect effects of these land-use practices increased growth and recruitment. Different criteria
were used for understory versus overstory trees to improve our detection of growth releases. Overall, major disturbances
occurred approximately every 40 and 31 years before and after European settlement, respectively. This century, old-growth
Q. prinus experienced marked growth increases coupled with high recruitment following the introduction of the chestnut
blight (Cryphonectria parasitica (Murr.) Barr.) to the stand in 1909. Tree growth was also highly correlated with temperature
and Palmer drought severity indices between 1895 and 1995. Climatic fluctuations in the 1820s­1830s and 1920s reduced
radial growth and recruitment resulting in stem exclusion stages following regeneration pulses. Relating land-use history and
climatic data to the dendroecology of this forest improved our understanding of its historical development.
Résumé : Les auteurs ont eu recours à la dendroécologie et à l'historique de l'utilisation des terres pour examiner l'histoire
écologique d'une forêt de Quercus prinus L. vieille de 326 ans. Selon les chronologies des arbres témoins, cette pente de talus
était dominée par le Q. prinus, le Castanea dentata (Marsh.) Borkh. et le Pinus rigida Mill. avant la colonisation européenne.
Les espèces de chêne montraient un recrutement continu durant trois siècles, probablement en réaction aux feux périodiques et


Source: Abrams, Marc David - School of Forest Resources, Pennsylvania State University


Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology