Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (1.95 MB bytes)

Title: Long-term changes in forest composition and diversity following early logging (1919-1923) and the decline of American chestnut (Castanea dentata)

Author: Elliott, Katherine J.; Swank, Wayne T.;

Date: 2008

Source: Plant Ecol., Vol. 197: 155-172

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: Chestnut blight fungus (Endothia parasitica [Murr.] P.I. And. & H.W. And. is a classic example of an invasive species, which severely damaged populations of its host, Castanea dentata, and had widespread and long-term impacts on eastern North American forests. Concurrently, forests were further disturbed by lumbering, which was common across the region from the mid 1800s to the early 19OOs. In 1926, local infestations of chestnut blight were reported in the Coweeta Basin, Southern Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. We used permanent plot inventories of the Basin (first sampled in 1934 and twice afterward in 1969-72 and 1988-93) to describe the distribution of species along a complex environmental gradient. Specifically, we asked: How does vegetation change over approximately 60 years following logging and the demise of C. dentata? Does the association between vegetation and environment detennine the pattern of species distributions through time? Which species replaced C. dentata across this complex environmental gradient? We used nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination and multiresponse permutation procedure for the analyses of the inventory periods. In 1934, C. dentata was the most important species in the Coweeta Basin. It was present in 98% of the plots and contributed 22% of the total density and 36% of the total basal area. Diversity increased significantly over time and was attributed to an increase in evenness of species distribution. The canopy dominant, C. dentata, was replaced by more than one species across the environmental gradient. Importance values of Quercus prinus, Acer rub rum, Comus florida, Tsuga canadensis, and Oxydendrum arboreum increased by 2-5% across the basin following the decline of C. dentata. Tsuga canadensis increased in abundance and distribution, especially near streams across elevations. Liriodendron tulipifera replaced C. dentata in moist coves, which have low terrain shape and high organic matter content. In contrast, Q. prinus and A. rubrum were ubiquitous, much like C. dentata before the chestnut blight becoming dominant or co-dominant species across all environmental conditions.

Keywords: Quercus prinus, Quercus rubra, Tsuga canadensis, disturbance, disease pandemic, long-term data

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Elliott, Katherine J.; Swank, Wayne T. 2008. Long-term changes in forest composition and diversity following early logging (1919-1923) and the decline of American chestnut (Castanea dentata). Plant Ecol., Vol. 197: 155-172


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.