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Harvard Forest Data Archive

HF016

Dynamics of Old-Growth Forests on Wachusett Mountain in Princeton MA 1996-1997

Related Publications

Data

Overview

  • Lead: David Orwig, Charles Cogbill
  • Investigators: David Foster, John O'Keefe
  • Contact: David Orwig
  • Start date: 1996
  • End date: 1997
  • Status: completed
  • Location: Wachusett Mountain (Princeton MA)
  • Latitude: +42.48
  • Longitude: -71.88
  • Elevation:
  • Taxa: Acer rubrum (red maple), Acer saccharum (sugar maple), Betula alleghaniensis (yellow birch), Fagus grandifolia (beech), Quercus rubra (red oak), Tsuga canadensis (hemlock)
  • Release date: 2003
  • Revisions:
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.16.17
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • Related links:
  • Study type: short-term measurement, modeling
  • Research topic: physiological ecology, population dynamics and species interactions; regional studies
  • LTER core area: disturbance
  • Keywords: dendrochronology, land use, old growth forests, vegetation dynamics
  • Abstract:

    One of the largest old-growth forests in southern New England was recently "discovered" on the exposed upper slopes of Wachusett Mountain, one of the most heavily used recreational areas in Massachusetts, less than 50 miles from urban Boston. Presettlement and early post-settlement data suggest that most of the area’s forests were comprised of a mixture of Quercus rubra and northern hardwood species. Individual species abundances and recruitment dynamics in the four stands exhibit highly variable spatial and temporal patterns across sites that differ in aspect and exposure. Three uneven-aged hardwood stands contain Quercus rubra in the largest size classes, various amounts of Fagus grandifolia, Acer and Betula species in the middle size classes and dense thickets of Acer pennsylvanicum, Acer spicatum, and Hamamelis virginiana in the small size classes. Several individuals of Q. rubra, B. lenta, and B. alleghaniensis are at or very near the maximum longevity known for these species. Of particular significance is the presence of Q. rubra exceeding 250 - 300 years of age. A Tsuga canadensis stand contains unimodal size and age distributions, with trees less than 60-cm dbh and 100 to 300 years old. Widespread Quercus rubra recruitment occurred on all sites from the 1600s through the early 1800s, when it dropped precipitously except for scattered individuals on more open talus sites, and was replaced by either Tsuga or Acer and Betula species. The historical change in recruitment from Quercus to more shade-tolerant species evidently was driven by a change in disturbance regime from an early period when fire was a major factor controlling forest dynamics to a period over the last two centuries when hurricanes (1815 and 1938), frequent wind, ice, and snow damage, but no fire, are documented. The asynchronous nature of tree-ring releases and suppression and the relatively low amount of coarse woody debris corroborate this interpretation. Chronic canopy damage through time produced short-statured and unusually gnarled trees through ongoing reiteration of shoots and branches. These historical and structural characteristics gave the forest unusual resistance to occasional, severe winds from hurricanes despite its very exposed nature. In addition, the low quality of the timber and unusual structure of the trees and forest discouraged logging and prevented the recognition of the forest’s old-growth status despite its heavy recreational use.

  • Methods:

    We analyzed historical records, dendroecological data, vegetation, and coarse woody debris to characterize the dynamics and development of four major old-growth stands on the mountain. In addition, we explored the potential factors enabling these forests to survive the land-use and hurricane history of New England and to elude recognition as old-growth forest for over 150 years.

  • Use:

    This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons license CC BY (Attribution). Please keep the designated contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement.

  • Citation:

    Orwig D, Cogbill C. 2003. Dynamics of Old-Growth Forests on Wachusett Mountain in Princeton MA 1996-1997. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF016.

Detailed Metadata

hf016-01: trees

  1. stand: 2 letter site abbreviation
    • ET: Eastern Talus Slope Area
    • HEM: Hemlock Area on Western Slopes
    • OI: Old Indian Trail Area
    • ST: Southern Talus Slope Area
  2. plot: 20 x 20 meter plot designation
  3. species: species
    • ACPE: Acer pennsylvanicum
    • ACRU: Acer rubrum
    • ACSA: Acer saccharum
    • ACSP: Acer spicatum
    • BEAL: Betula alleghaniensis
    • BELE: Betula lenta
    • CADE: Castanea dentata
    • CAGL: Carya glabra
    • CAOV: Carya ovata
    • Carya: Carya spp.
    • FAGR: Fagus grandifolia
    • FRAM: Fraxinus americana
    • HAVI: Hamamelis virginiana
    • OSVI: Ostrya virginiana
    • PIRU: Picea rubens
    • QURU: Quercus rubra
    • SOAM: Sorbus americana
    • TSCA: Tsuga canadensis
  4. crown: tree canopy crown class
    • CD: codominant tree
    • D: dominant tree
    • I: intermediate tree
    • OT: overtopped tree
  5. dbh: diameter at breast height (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  6. age: breast height tree age as of 1997 of selected trees (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf016-02: saplings

  1. stand: 2 letter site abbreviation
    • ET: Eastern Talus Slope Area
    • HEM: Hemlock Area on Western Slopes
    • OI: Old Indian Trail Area
    • ST: Southern Talus Slope Area
  2. plot: 20 x 20 meter plot designation
  3. species: species
    • ACPE: Acer pennsylvanicum
    • ACRU: Acer rubrum
    • ACSA: Acer saccharum
    • ACSP: Acer spicatum
    • BEAL: Betula alleghaniensis
    • Carya: Carya spp.
    • COAL: Cornus alternifolia
    • FAGR: Fagus grandifolia
    • HAVI: Hamamelis virginiana
    • OSVI: Ostrya virginiana
    • PRVI: Prunus virginiana
    • QURU: Quercus rubra
    • SARA: Sambucus racemosa
    • SOAM: Sorbus americana
    • TIAM: Tilia americana
    • TSCA: Tsuga canadensis
  4. density: stem density (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf016-03: understory

  1. species: species
    • ACPE: Acer pennsylvanicum
    • ACRU: Acer rubrum
    • ACSA: Acer saccharum
    • ACSP: Acer spicatum
    • ARME: Aronia melanocarpa
    • ARNU: Aralia nudicaulis
    • ARTR: Arisaema triphyllum
    • ASAC: Aster acuminatus
    • ASDI: Aster divaricatus
    • BEAL: Betula alleghaniensis
    • BELE: Betula lenta
    • Carex: Carex spp.
    • Carya: Carya spp.
    • CLBO: Clintonia borealis
    • COAL: Cornus alternifolia
    • Crataegus: Crateagus spp.
    • DEPU: Dennstaedia punctilobula
    • DRMA: Dryopteris marginalis
    • DRSP: Dryopteris spinulosa
    • FAGR: Fagus grandifolia
    • FRAM: Fraxinus americana
    • HAVI: Hamamelis virginiana
    • Lonicera: Lonicera spp.
    • LYLU: Lycopodium lucidulum
    • MACA: Maianthemum canadense
    • MEVI: Medeola virginiana
    • OSCL: Osmunda claytonia
    • OSVI: Ostrya virginiana
    • OXAC: Oxalis acetosella
    • PAQU: Parthenocissus quinquefolia
    • POAC: Polystichum acrostichoides
    • POBI: Polygonatum biflorum
    • POCI: Polygonum cilinode
    • Polygonatum: Polygonatum spp.
    • POVU: Polypodium vulgare
    • POSI: Potentilla simplex
    • PRVI: Prunus virginiana
    • QURU: Quercus rubra
    • RHNU: Rhododendron nudiflorum
    • Ribes: Ribes spp.
    • Rubus: Rubus spp.
    • RUHI: Rubus hispidus
    • SARA: Sambucus racemosa
    • SMRA: Smilacina racemosa
    • SOAM: Sorbus americana
    • SORU: Solidago rugosa
    • STRO: Streptopus roseus
    • SURU: Solidago rugosa
    • THNO: Thelypteris noveboracensis
    • TIAM: Tilia americana
    • TORA: Toxicodendron radicans
    • TRBO: Trientalis borealis
    • Trillium: Trillium spp.
    • TSCA: Tsuga canadensis
    • UVSE: Uvularia sessifolia
    • VAAN: Vaccinium angustifolium
    • VIAL: Viburnum alnifolium
    • Viola: Viola spp.
  2. oi.1: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  3. oi.2: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  4. oi.3: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  5. oi.4: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  6. oi.5: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  7. et.1: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  8. et.2: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  9. et.3: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  10. et.4: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  11. et.5: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  12. st.1: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  13. st.2: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  14. st.3: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  15. st.4: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  16. st.5: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  17. hem.1: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  18. hem.2: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  19. hem.3: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  20. hem.4: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  21. hem.5: percent cover within 20 x 20 meter plot designated by stand and plot number (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf016-04: coarse woody debris

  1. stand: 2 letter site abbreviation
    • ET: Eastern Talus Slope Area
    • HEM: Hemlock Area on Western Slopes
    • OI: Old Indian Trail Area
    • ST: Southern Talus Slope Area
  2. plot: 20 x 20 meter plot designation
  3. species: species
    • ACER: Acer spp.
    • ACPE: Acer pennsylvanicum
    • ACRU: Acer rubrum
    • ACSA: Acer saccharum
    • BEAL: Betula alleghaniensis
    • BEECH: beech
    • BELE: Betula lenta
    • CADE: Castanea dentata
    • CAOV: Carya ovata
    • CARYA: Carya spp.
    • FAGR: Fagus grandifolia
    • HAVI: Hamamelis virginiana
    • OSVI: Ostrya virginiana
    • QUERCUS: Quercus spp.
    • QURU: Quercus rubra
    • TSCA: Tsuga canadensis
    • UNK: unknown
  4. orientation: direction of woody material
  5. origin: origin of woody material
    • LIMB: branch
    • SNAP: bole snap
    • UNK: unknown
    • WT: windthrow
    • LOG: log
  6. length: length of woody material (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  7. rad.b: radius (m) of base of woody material (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  8. rad.t: radius (m) of top of woody material (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  9. avg.rad: average of the two woody radii per piece (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  10. vol: volume of woody piece (m3) (unit: cubicMeter / missing value: NA)