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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2014

  • Title: Disturbance, Forest Productivity, and Ghost Trees of Years Past: Early results from PalEON
  • Primary Author: Neil Pederson (Harvard Forest)
  • Additional Authors: Audrey Barker Plotkin (Harvard Forest); Michael Dietze (Harvard University); Ana Camila Gonzalez (Columbia University in the City of New York); Dario Martin Benito (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETH-Zurich)); Jaclyn Matthes (Boston University); Jason McLachlan (University of Notre Dame)
  • Abstract:

    The legacy of past disturbance can shape forest structure, dynamics, and biomass. Reconstructing the history of forests development can be accomplished through tree-ring analysis. However, there are limitations in these data. However, the tree-ring record is limited in revealing how mortality events or natural thinning influence forests because they might not fully capture the missing or ‘ghost trees’ that have faded from the forest without leaving a strong signal in living trees. The PalEON team is working on a sampling protocol to better understand the ghost tree issue. One way we are trying to better understand the uncertainties of ghost trees is to compare tree-ring records to repeated measures from plots in the Harvard Forest (HF) established in 1969. Of the two most important species in the HF plots, Acer rubrum experienced increased growth in the 1940s, a decline in the late-1960s, and reduced growth since the 1990s while Quercus rubra data contain only the 1940s event. Both species impacted by gypsy moth defoliation in 1981 and show a brief surge in growth during the 2000s. Gypsy moth maybe have tipped the ecological balance in the favor of Quercus rubra, but there is much more to explore with these records. These data and ecological analyses will give greater insight on how temperate forests sequester atmospheric carbon.

  • Research Category: Group Projects, Historical and Retrospective Studies, Large Experiments and Permanent Plot Studies