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Seventy years of forest growth and community dynamics in an undisturbed northern hardwood forest

Pontius, Jennifer, Halman, Joshua M., Schaberg, Paul G.
Canadian journal of forest research = 2016 v.46 no.7 pp. 959-967
Abies balsamea, Acer saccharum subsp. saccharum, Picea rubens, acid deposition, anthropogenic activities, biomass, climate change, forest growth, forest inventory, hardwood, hardwood forests, models, New Hampshire
Long-term forest inventories provide a unique opportunity to quantify changes in forest structure and evaluate how changes compare with current stand development models. An examination of a 70 year record at the Bartlett Experimental Forest, New Hampshire, indicated that although species abundances have primarily changed as expected under natural succession, some unexpected results were also detected. This included a significant decline in sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) abundance driven by reduced regeneration and increases in red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) at the expense of sympatric balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.) and hardwoods at upper elevations. In contrast with accepted stand development models, biomass continues to accrue on these mid- to late-successional forests. Importantly, biomass accumulated at even greater rates in recent decades compared with historical norms. These results support evidence that the anthropogenic influences of a changing climate and the legacy of acid deposition may be altering stand dynamics in northeastern forests.