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Title: From savanna to campus woodlot: the historical ecology of farm woodlots in southern Illinois

Author: Ruffner, C. M.; Trieu, A.; Chandy, S.; Davis, M. D.; Fishel, D.; Gipson, G.; Lhotka, J.; Lynch, K.; Perkins, P.; van de Gevel, S.; Watson, W.; White, E.;

Date: 2003

Source: In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Dawson, Jeffery O.; Ponder Jr., Felix; Loewenstein, Edward F.; Fralish, James S., eds. Proceedings of the 13th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-234. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station: 333-342

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: The historical ecology of Thompson Woods, a 4.1 ha forest remnant on the campus of Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, was investigated through stand structure analysis, dendroecology, and historical records. Historical records indicate the area was a savanna ecosystem prior to European settlement dominated by large, open grown mixed oak-hickory trees. No trees in the current stand predate 1850 suggesting that most of the trees standing at settlement were harvested for the stave industry. Following this cutting, shagbark hickory and white, post, black, southern red, and black oaks were recruited on the site and formed the current 140-year-old overstory. During the latter part of the 18th century, the stand area was apparently managed for firewood and an occasional saw log along with fires and intermittent grazing to maintain the open characteristic of the understory. In the early 20th century, the area was isolated from adjacent forested areas and removal of damaged overstory individuals coupled with fire exclusion activities has fostered the increase of fire intolerant, more mesophytic species. Currently, restorative management activities are focused on removing undesirable midstory sugar maple and beech while conducting prescribed burns in the understory to foster oak-hickory recruitment.

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Ruffner, C. M.; Trieu, A.; Chandy, S.; Davis, M. D.; Fishel, D.; Gipson, G.; Lhotka, J.; Lynch, K.; Perkins, P.; van de Gevel, S.; Watson, W.; White, E. 2003. From savanna to campus woodlot: the historical ecology of farm woodlots in southern Illinois. In: Van Sambeek, J. W.; Dawson, Jeffery O.; Ponder Jr., Felix; Loewenstein, Edward F.; Fralish, James S., eds. Proceedings of the 13th Central Hardwood Forest Conference; Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-234. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Research Station: 333-342

 


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