Skip to Main Content
Changing tree composition by life history strategy in a grassland-forest landscapeAuthor(s): Brice B. Hanberry; John M. Kabrick; Hong S. He
Source: Ecosphere. 5(3): article 34.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (3.46 MB)
DescriptionAfter rapid deforestation in the eastern United States, which generally occurred during the period of 1850-1920, forests did not return to historical composition and structure. We examined forest compositional change and then considered how historical land use and current land use may influence forests in a grassland-forest landscape, the Missouri Plains, where frequent surface fire was the historical land use and intensive agricultural is the current land use. We compared composition, distribution, and environmental relationships during historical (1813-1860) and current (2004-2008) forest surveys. We also examined changing composition of life history strategies of (1) stress tolerators based on fire tolerance, (2) colonizers based on shade intolerance, and (3) competitors based on shade tolerance. Open forest ecosystems of fire-tolerant oaks have been replaced by forests of fire-sensitive species, such as ashes, hackberry, and maples that expanded from riparian firebreaks and osage-orange and eastern redcedar that expanded from planted windbreaks and rocky firebreaks. Colonizing species increased from 7% to 32% of total composition, with assisted tree migration from planting; we expect continued expansion particularly by eastern redcedar into areas unoccupied by trees. Competitive species have increased slightly to 38% of total composition although the trajectory of current forests suggested competitors may increase to 56% of total composition by replacing oaks in forest ecosystems. Changed success of life history strategies in an agricultural landscape without fire resulted in increased composition and extent of fire-sensitive colonizers compared to fire-tolerant oaks. We suggest that patterns of loss of fire-tolerant oaks and increased distribution of fire-sensitive species reflect suppression of fire, the historical land use. In addition, we suggest that subsequent land use dictates the success of either shade-intolerant colonizers or shade-tolerant competitors in current forests. Forests will be composed of shade-intolerant colonizers where land use disturbance is frequent, such as in agricultural landscapes, and forests will be composed of species with greater shade tolerance where land use disturbance is less frequent.
- 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, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.; Kabrick, John M.; He, Hong S. 2014. Changing tree composition by life history strategy in a grassland-forest landscape. Ecosphere. 5(3): article 34.
Keywordsfire, fire suppression, functional, historical forests, land use, regime shift
- Assessing urban forest effects and values: the greater Kansas City region
- Assessing urban forest effects and values: Douglas County, Kansas
- Urban forests of Tennessee, 2009
XML: View XML