Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Forest Resource Management
The varied growing conditions, fractured topography, and diversity of woody species in the Central Appalachians ensure that the harvest response of forest stands in the region will never be easily predictable. Clearcutting exposes the seedbed and freshly cut stumps of a harvested forest to full sunlight, encouraging the regeneration of the greatest number of species possible for that region. Gathering information on stand response to a complete removal in the mixed mesophytic forests of West Virginia will add valuable information to the silvicultural database for the most complex hardwood ecosystem in North America.;Beginning in 1998, U.S. Forest Service personnel installed permanent plots in the Cheat Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest and began recording observations of early growth response in over 90 even age stands. Utilizing a subset of that initial data, and data from subsequent inventories in 2004 and 2009, this project evaluated the 10 year development of 15 of those clearcuts. This study answers the question of how these even age forests changed over time, without stand management.;Results demonstrated the diverse regeneration of over 40 woody species following clearcutting. Yellow-poplar and oaks were the dominant species in the overstory. Yellow-poplar was more important on mesic and southerly aspects, and oak dominated the xeric aspects. Significant increases in basal area/acre, coinciding with significant decreases in tree density, were sustained in stands of up to 30 years of age. Best basal area growth occurred on southerly stands, followed by summit and westerly stands. Poorest basal area development was exhibited by mesic sites, where wild grapevines had an adverse effect. Grapevines were established on 11 of 15 stands in 2009. Only statistically non-significant changes in grapevine levels were exhibited over the study period in all stands combined. This indicated that vine establishment occurs early in stand development, between harvest and canopy closure. Grapevine damage was more severe on mesic aspects than on southerly and westerly aspects, and summits.
Marden, Jonathan R., "A Ten-Year Evaluation of Structural and Compositional Development In Unmanaged Central Appalachian Clearcuts" (2010). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 4630.