Skip to Main Content
Changes in vegetation structure and diversity after grass-to-forest succession in a Southern Appalachian watershedAuthor(s): Katherine J. Elliott; Lindsay R. Boring; Wayne T. Swank
Source: The American Midland Naturalist. 140: 219-232.
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
PDF: View PDF (379 KB)
DescriptionTo document how species richness and diversity (H!) recover from severe large-scale disturbance, we report temporal patterns of species composition and diversity following grass-to-forest succession from a long-term experiment in the Coweeta Basin, western North Carolina. The original experiment -- clear-cutting, 5 yr of grass cover followed by a herbicide treatment, and abandonment in a Southern Appalachian mixed deciduous forest -- represents the most severe human disturbance in the Coweeta Basin. For several years after cessation of management, Robinia pseudoacacia quickly sprouted from roots and exceeded the growth rates of other species. Liriodendron tulipifera increased in density and basal area because of its prolific seedling establishment and rapid growth rate. Regeneration of large seeded species was mixed -- sparse for Quercus rubra and Q. coccinea and nonexistent for Q. prinus and Q. velutina. In the overstory, density-based H! increased from 1958, before grass conversion, to 15 yr and 28 yr following disturbance. In contrast, basal area-based H! had significantly declined at 15 yr, then increased at 28 yr. The initial decline in basal area based H! was attributed to a decline in evenness of species distribution (J!) rather than to a change in species richness. The severe disturbance increased the abundance of early successional woody species and of herbaceous genera that tolerate open habitats, such as Erichtites, Phytolacca, and Erigeron. Shade-tolerant understory ferns and herbs such as Polystichum acrostichoides, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Galium latifolium, and Viola cucullata gradually became more abundant. The 28-yr-old forest of WS6 had much lower species richness than the adjacent reference watersheds, but more than threefold higher density.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- 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.
CitationElliott, Katherine J.; Boring, Lindsay R.; Swank, Wayne T. 1998. Changes in vegetation structure and diversity after grass-to-forest succession in a Southern Appalachian watershed. The American Midland Naturalist. 140: 219-232.
- Vegetation control options for improving afforestation of a retired sod farm in central Arkansas
- Successional changes in plant species diversity and composition after clearcutting a Southern Appalachian watershed
- Herbaceous-layer and overstory species in clear-cut and mature central Appalachian hardwood forests
XML: View XML