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Harvard Forest REU Symposium Abstract 2006

  • Title: Post-Settlement Forest Dynamics of a Central New England Basin Examined by Pollen, Tree Ring, and Historically Documented Records.
  • Author: ()
  • Abstract:

    The processes by which forest composition changes through time are often linked to and altered by humans. In keeping with the tradition of land use history oriented ecology research at Harvard Forest, long term vegetation dynamics of an understudied basin were examined by palynology, dendrochronology, plot sampling, and historical document analysis. French Road Pond basin is situated within Prospect Hill Compartment 10 which came under university ownership in 1992, nearly ninety years later than the majority of HF property. As a result, relatively little work has occurred in this area. FRP basin under went early settlement, agricultural, and abandonment phases similar to those of most forested central New England landscapes. The combination of techniques employed in this study allowed forest succession to be examined in cultural context and connected to anthropogenic driving forces. Trends in pollen assemblage through time in conjunction with tree ring records bring to light 150 years of forest dynamics which yield maple, ash, and white pine associations on the landscape at present. Site specific post agricultural forest regeneration within FRP basin is attributable not only to site conditions, but also differences in land use and time of abandonment. Small scale land clearance and agriculture within the basin began as early as the late 18th century and continued in the western portion through the early 20th century. The patchwork nature of land abandonment within a relatively small basin has yielded a generally young, yet uneven aged forest. This study has served to increase collective knowledge of localized land use history and resulting forest regeneration which can be compared to similar studies conducted throughout Harvard Forest over the course of the previous century.

  • Research Category: Historical and Retrospective Studies