The influence of historical land use on the successional dynamics of a suburban deciduous forest
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Type of Workapplication/pdf
viii, 118 pages
DepartmentTowson University. Department of Biological Sciences
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Length of time since agricultural abandonment, variations in topography and soil, and forest fragmentation associated with suburban development can influence the succession of a deciduous forest. I analyzed herbaceous and woody vegetation data collected at the forested Middle Patuxent Environmental Area (MPEA) in 2001, 2009, and 2012 to better understand succession in a suburban forest remnant and to investigate the effects of time since abandonment and variations in landscape on vegetation. Herbaceous vegetation fluctuated across decadal, interannual, and seasonal scales, with a decadal increase in major invasive species. Shrubs also experienced a greater abundance of invasive species across the decade, whereas the tree stratum better aligned with the expected trends of a deciduous forest. Though herbaceous plants and shrubs displayed some differential distributions reflective of time since abandonment, trees differed the most distinctly in accordance with agricultural legacy, proximity to suburban edges, and major soil nutrients.