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  • History and Dynamics of American Beech in Coastal New England 1620-2006
  • Busby, Posy
  • Motzkin, Glenn
  • Foster, David
  • Canham, Charles
  • 2015
  • Variation in forest response to hurricane disturbance in coastal New England Research on disturbance in forest ecosystems has generally focused on either catastrophic disturbances generating stand-replacing successional sequences, or small-scale disturbances (e.g. individual tree-fall gaps) resulting in tree-by-tree replacement. The role of moderate disturbances in forest development, in contrast, is poorly understood. While the most severe hurricanes can cause catastrophic disturbance, the vast majority of hurricanes that affect forests from the Caribbean to the northeastern United States are moderate in intensity. In this study we examine both individual and population level responses of beech (Fagus grandifolia) and oak species (Quercus spp.) to hurricanes of varying intensity in coastal Massachusetts. We characterize growth response to disturbance using a novel approach that explicitly compares the range of growth responses observed following known disturbances to the range of growth responses in non-event years. The tree species exhibited a wide range of growth and regeneration responses to hurricanes; however, only a single storm caused dramatic increases in growth and new establishment for beech. The results of this study highlight the importance of wind disturbance in the establishment and persistence of beech, and suggest that while some moderate disturbances have little or no effect on species growth and regeneration dynamics, individual storms may have substantial impacts. Forest response to wind storms of varying, but moderate intensities, depended on local site conditions, including environmental, meteorological, topographical, historical and biological factors. Beech dominance in a coastal New England forest Monodominant forests occur in a wide range of tropical and temperate ecosystems, but the mechanisms enabling their development are not well understood. This study examines the history and dynamics of beech-dominated forests in coastal New England in order to identify factors that facilitate beech dominance. We also characterize beech structural variation with respect to edaphic and environmental conditions, and describe ‘dwarf beech forests’ which have not been documented in the literature. The development of beech dominance in the study area, Naushon Island, Massachusetts, was influenced by numerous factors - selective oak harvesting in the early historical period, infrequent fire, frequent and occasionally intense hurricanes, intense deer herbivory, minimal anthropogenic disturbance over the past 150 years, and geographic isolation – and facilitated by beech’s ability to persist in the understory and reproduce vegetatively. This study highlights the importance of both disturbance history and species-specific traits in the development of monodominant forests, and suggests that these stands can persist for long periods of time in the absence of pest, pathogen, or other disturbances.
  • N: 41.508      S: 41.508      E: -70.708      W: -70.708
  • knb-lter-hfr.195.1  
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  • doi:10.6073/pasta/9a78134f1180f1e3e046d42401ccedd7
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