Skip to Main Content
Variability in oak forest herb layer communitiesAuthor(s): J. R. McClenahen; R. P. Long
Source: In: Gottschalk, Kurt W.; Fosbroke, Sandra L. C., ed. Proceedings, 10th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 1995 March 5-8; Morgantown, WV.: Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-197. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 60-78
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Northeastern Research Station
PDF: View PDF (2.25 MB)
DescriptionThis study evaluates forest herb-layer sensitivity to annual-scale environmental fluctuation. Specific objectives were to determine the between-year variation in herb-layer community biomass, and to contrast and evaluate the temporal stability of spatial relationships in herb-layer community structure and composition between successive years. Aboveground dry weights of herbs and of woody species 4.5 cm dbh were estimated in June of 1988 and 1989 in 13 ecologically analogous, oak-dominated stands along a 170-km east-west transect in north-central Pennsylvania. An approximately 50% reduction in total herb-layer biomass was measured from 1988 to 1989, presumably due to a residual or lagged effect of the early summer drought in 1988. Herb biomass reductions were inferred to largely result from reduced plant size rather than decreased spatial distribution. Smaller and (or) less-consistent biomass reductions for woody species may have resulted from high first-year seedling mortality in the case of Acer rubrum L., and possibly from intensified deer browsing of shrubs and saplings as a consequence of reduced herb forage resulting from the drought. Classification and ordination also indicated a 1989 reduction in importance of mesic-type species and an increase in similarity of herb-layer communities among stands. Conversely, greater spatial differences in species diversity measures were evident in 1989. Comparisons among herb layer communities based on single or infrequent measurements may be misleading due to large temporal variability and the spatially differential responses that broad-scale environmental factors such as climate may superimpose. Monitoring herb layer biomass in this oak forest ecosystem offers a sensitive means for detecting short-term environmental fluctuations such as annual climate variation, and additional data may enable identification of vegetation trends with statistical confidence.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationMcClenahen, J. R.; Long, R. P. 1995. Variability in oak forest herb layer communities. In: Gottschalk, Kurt W.; Fosbroke, Sandra L. C., ed. Proceedings, 10th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; 1995 March 5-8; Morgantown, WV.: Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-197. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 60-78
- Post-harvest prescribed burning of oak stands: an alternative to the shelterwood-burn technique?
- Elemental concentrations in foliage of red maple, red oak, and white oak in relation to atmospheric deposition in Pennsylvania
- Responses of hardwood advace regeneration to seasonal prescribed fires in oak-dominated shelterwood stands
XML: View XML