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1 April 2016 Observations on a Rare Old-Growth Montane Longleaf Pine Forest in Central North Carolina, USA
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Montane longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) forests are rare and no detailed inventory exists documenting stands in North Carolina. We inventoried all longleaf pine trees (n = 403) growing in a 24-ha remnant montane longleaf pine forest in the Uwharrie Mountains of central North Carolina, USA, in autumn 2014 to (1) map their location, (2) document age/height/diameter characteristics, and (3) determine special ecological features of this rare montane population. All longleaf pine were geographically referenced via GPS, measured for height and diameter, and a subsample of trees was cored to determine age. All longleaf pine were mapped based on growth-stage categories—grass, juvenile, young adult, and mature—to determine spatial patterning of stand-age characteristics. The longleaf pine stand contains a variety of growth-stage categories, but is dominated (63%) by mature-stage trees growing on south- and southwestern-facing slopes, while nearly all regeneration-stage trees (i.e., grass and juvenile) are growing on northwest-facing slopes, suggesting environmental conditions conducive to establishment have changed. Median (maximum) tree height and trunk diameter for young adult and mature were 17 (25) m and 38 (72) cm, respectively. Median (maximum) tree age at 0.3 m height was 116 years (272 years), and at least seven trees were greater than 150 years old, with four trees establishing in the 18th century. We conclude that the stand's characteristics—400 trees of various ages including old-growth, occurring principally on steep, southerly slopes with a total relief of 85 m, and extending over 24 ha—warrant “montane” longleaf pine forest status in North Carolina.

Thomas W. Patterson and Paul A. Knapp "Observations on a Rare Old-Growth Montane Longleaf Pine Forest in Central North Carolina, USA," Natural Areas Journal 36(2), 153-161, (1 April 2016).
Published: 1 April 2016

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