Characterizing forest structure at Howard Falls Land Trust, a post-agricultural landscape of northwest Pennsylvania

Authors: Jessica Griffin*, , Camryn Mosley*, , Karen Eisenhart*, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
Topics: Biogeography, Physical Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: forest structure, post agriculture, red maple, northwest Pennsylvania, biogeography
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The purpose of this project is to sample and describe the forest communities at Howard Falls Land Trust, a protected natural area in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Phase one was completed during summer 2018, consisting of a woody plant species inventory based on twenty fixed-size plots. Plot locations were established by overlaying a grid of points with 100m spacing over the property in a GIS, then eliminating points falling on unsampleable areas. Twenty points were randomly selected from the remaining points, and field located using GPS. At each sample point we established a fixed-sized circular plot with a 10m radius. Oblique photographs were taken from the center toward the boundary in the four cardinal directions. All woody species with a measurable diameter at breast height were recorded by species, diameter, and whether alive or dead. Trees positions were recorded by distance and azimuth from center. Data are summarized independently for each plot, since previous work at this site identified distinct areas based on differences in time since agricultural abandonment. Plot structures were compared within and among these patches. Overall, eighteen woody species were sampled, ranging in size from less than 1cm diameter to greater than 80cm diameter. Though the highest woody species richness of any plot was eleven, average richness was 4.1. All sampled plots appear to be relatively young, with most dominated by red maple canopy. Canopy composition and diameter-frequency of dead standing trees is generally correlated with time since post-agricultural forest establishment.

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