Title

Forty-Two Years of Succession Following Strip Clearcutting in a Northern Hardwoods Forest in Northwestern Massachusetts

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2003

Abstract

We investigated the effects of strip width, slope position, and soil scarification in a split–split plot design on the regeneration of northern hardwoods in northwestern Massachusetts. Whole plots of 20 and 40 m in width were cut in 1954 in a second growth forest dominated by Betula papyrifera. Slope position and soil scarification were the split and split–split plot treatments, respectively. We measured height for all tree species present in randomly located 4 m2 plots beginning in 1955 and at irregular intervals over the following 42-year period. We measured all trees in the cut strips in 1996. Prunus pensylvanica was the dominant species initially, but had nearly disappeared from the cut strips by 1996. Soil scarification significantly increased initial establishment of B. papyrifera, but density and basal area of this species did not differ by soil treatment in 1996. Tree composition in cut strips was weakly correlated with soil moisture, soil scarification, and initial tree density immediately following cutting, but high spatial variation in species composition and low replication made it difficult to detect any significant correlations among the distribution and abundance of different species and selected environmental variables. The canopy of the cut strips is even-aged; establishment of most canopy trees occurred within 5 years following cutting. A comparison of successional trends in adjacent uncut strips with the trends in the cut strips indicates that cutting has altered the sequence of successional changes in forest composition increasing the abundance of some species that were of low importance prior to cutting. In 1996, Acer rubrum and A. saccharum are replacing B. papyrifera in the canopy of the uncut strips. The canopy of the cut strips consists of a diverse and spatially varying mixture of intermediate hardwoods including Quercus rubra, Fraxinus americana, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum,B. papyrifera, and an understory of late successional hardwoods.

DOI

10.1016/S0378-1127(03)00066-5