Date of Graduation
Canaan Valley Is an upland valley located in the Allegheny Mountains of W est Virginia. H isto rically , it had probably the finest Picea rubens Sarg. forest in North America. Its most distinguishing features are: (1) its large o v al-sh ap e, 14 miles long and from two to four miles wide; (2) the presence of a relict Pleistocene flora and boreal communities; and (3) a wetland area of approximately 6,000 acres at a mean elevation of 3,200 feet. The vegetation of Canaan Valley was studied in respect to its flo ristic composition and its ecological im plications. D escriptions of plant communities and construction of a vegetative distribution map were based on Kuchler's "Comprehensive System" of vegetation mapping. Diagrammatic profiles of selected upland forests and wetland communities were drawn from line tran sect d a ta . The vegetation map was produced from panchromatic aerial photographs. Ektachrome and color infrared aerial transparencies taken at the peak of the 1973 fall coloration, October 20, were used for community identification in conjunction with "ground truth" sampling procedures. Forty floristically d istin ct plant communities were described for Canaan Valley. The major vegetation types in the Valley are polytrichum bogs, sphagnum b o g s, m arshes, wet meadows, wet shrub th ick ets, old field s, boreal swamp fo rests, and upland forests of 208 northern hardwoods and conifers in varying adm ixtures. Many of the plant communities represent successio n al stages following early logging and continuing disturbances to the V alley's vegetation by man and his introduction of dom esticated and wild anim als. Five hundred and tw enty-three species of vascular plants were found in Canaan Valley during the present study and earlier stu d ie s. Approximately one fifth of th ese species have d istin ct northern ranges, with southern range extensions down the highest elevations of the Appalachian Mountains into W est Virginia and farther southw ard. Edaphic conditions, principally hydrologic, play a major role in determining the current pattern of vegetation, as well as the rate of reforestation in various parts of Canaan Valley.
FORTNEY, RONALD HOWARD, "THE VEGETATION OF CANAAN VALLEY, WEST VIRGINIA: A TAXONOMIC AND ECOLOGICAL STUDY." (1975). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 8865.