Date of Completion

2017

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Forestry

Type of Thesis

Honors College

First Advisor

Anthony W. D'Amato

Second Advisor

Justin Waskiewicz

Third Advisor

Shelly Rayback

Keywords

Champlain Valley, valley clayplain forest, stand dynamics, land-use history, dendroecology

Abstract

Studies of stand dynamics can explain how species interactions and disturbances drive forest structure and recruitment patterns of tree species. It is difficult to generate an understanding of stand dynamics and successional trends of forests in areas that have a long history of intense land use such as the Champlain Valley of Vermont, where over 230 years of agricultural activity has acutely and permanently influenced the landscape. The valley clayplain forest, a rare natural community containing endangered herbaceous plants and overstory tree species assemblages that are rare in Vermont, has been fragmented by agricultural use of the Champlain Valley. This study used dendroecological methods and assessments of forest structural conditions to describe the tree recruitment history and structural dynamics of two old-growth valley clayplain forest patches. Our results indicate that the valley clayplain forest has a species composition and recruitment history that has been heavily influenced by human land use throughout at least the past 230 years. We found that Quercus spp., typically considered characteristic of the valley clayplain forest, are being replaced by late-successional species such as Tsuga canadensis. Additionally, other human influences such as invasive species threaten to further alter the composition and dynamics of valley clayplain forests in the near future.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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