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23 February 2018 Fifty-Five Years of Change in a Northwest Georgia Old-Growth Forest
Rachel B Butler, Michael K Crosby, B. Nicole Hodges
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Old-growth forests provide unique insight into historical compositions of forests in the eastern United States. Plots established within a mixed forest community within Marshall Forest in Rome, Georgia, in 1960 (and remeasured in 1989) were reassessed to determine changes in forest composition. The community has experienced approximately 10% increase in basal area since the previous measurement period. However, changes in species importance have occurred. Chestnut oak (Quercus montana), mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), white oak (Quercus alba), and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) have all decreased in importance, while pignut hickory (Carya glabra), winged elm (Ulmus alata), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and red maple (Acer rubrum) have all increased in importance. Additionally, there are no Pinus spp. saplings in the study area, indicating seedlings are not being recruited into the midstory. These changes indicate continued succession to a composition increasingly dominated by shade-tolerant species. The mixed forest community appears to be transitioning to an oak-hickory community. The assessment of late successional dynamics may help managers of similar forests to determine the best plan of action if they desire to maintain a mixed forest ecosystem.

Copyright 2018 Southern Appalachian Botanical Society
Rachel B Butler, Michael K Crosby, and B. Nicole Hodges "Fifty-Five Years of Change in a Northwest Georgia Old-Growth Forest," Castanea 83(1), 152-159, (23 February 2018).
Received: 6 October 2016; Accepted: 1 December 2017; Published: 23 February 2018

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