The study was a demographic analysis of Gaultheria procumbens conducted on the Montague Sand Plain. It compared the demographic parameters of above-ground stems between plowed and unplowed areas within scrub oak and hardwood sites. Past land use can have long-term effects on plant species distributional patterns if alterations in resources and environmental conditions have persistent effects on population demography ("environmental change") and/or if plants are intrinsically limited in their colonisation ability ("historical factors"). We evaluated the role of environmental alteration versus historical factors in controlling distributional patterns in Gaultheria procumbens (L.), a woody, clonal, understorey species with a pronounced restriction to areas that have never been ploughed and near absence from adjoining areas that were ploughed in the 19th century. The demographic study was conducted in scrub oak and hardwood plant communities on an extensive sand plain where it was possible to control for the effect of variation in environment prior to land use.
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