Skip to Main Content
The history of widespread decrease in oak dominance exemplified in a grassland--forest landscapeAuthor(s): Brice B. Hanberry; Daniel C. Dey; Hong S. He
Source: Science of The Total Environment. 476-477: 591-600.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (1.31 MB)
DescriptionRegionally-distinctive open oak forest ecosystems have been replaced either by intensive agriculture and grazing fields or by denser forests throughout eastern North America and Europe. To quantify changes in tree communities and density in the Missouri Plains, a grassland-forest landscape, we used historical surveys from1815 to 1864 and current surveys from 2004 to 2008. To estimate density for historical communities, we used the Morisita plotless density estimator and applied corrections for surveyor bias. To estimate density for current forests, we used Random Forests, an ensemble regression tree method, to predict densities from known values at plots using terrain and soil predictors. Oak species decreased from 62% of historical composition to 30% of current composition and black and white oaks historically were dominant species across 93% of the landscape and currently were dominant species across 42% of the landscape. Current forest density was approximately two times greater than historical densities, demonstrating loss of savanna and woodlands and transition to dense forest structure. Average tree diameters were smaller than in the past, but mean basal area and stocking remained similar over time because of the increase in density in current forests. Nevertheless, there were spatial differences; basal area and stocking decreased along rivers and increased away from rivers. Oak species are being replaced by other species in the Missouri Plains, similar to replacement throughout the range of Quercus. Long-term commitment to combinations of prescribed burning and silvicultural prescriptions in more xeric sites may be necessary for oak recruitment. Restoration of open oak ecosystems is a time-sensitive issue because restoration will become increasingly costly as oaks are lost from the overstory and the surrounding matrix becomes dominated by non-oak species.
- 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.
CitationHanberry, Brice B.; Dey, Daniel C.; He, Hong S. 2014. The history of widespread decrease in oak dominance exemplified in a grassland--forest landscape. Science of The Total Environment. 476-477: 591-600.
KeywordsFire suppression, Historical forest, Land use, Oak restoration, Savanna, Woodland
- Proceedings of the seventh California oak symposium: managing oak woodlands in a dynamic world
- Sustaining oak forests in eastern North America: regeneration and recruitment, the pillars of sustainability
- Efficacy and associated factors of even- and uneven-aged management to promote oak regeneration in the Missouri Ozarks
XML: View XML