Changes in an Oak-Chestnut Forest Since the Chestnut Blight


Richard Karban

Additional Authors:


December – 1978


Oak, Chestnut, Forest, Blight, Quercus, borealis, maxima, Virginia, Shenandoah National Park

An undisturbed oak-chestnut forest in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, had been surveyed by Braun (1950) before the chestnut blight. The same forest was resurveyed in 1977, about fifty years later. The present study tested the actual association of chestnut stumps with other canopy species. <em>Quercus borealis maxima</em>* was found to be the only species significantly associated with chestnut stumps. Although the blight created large gaps in the canopy, no new invaders were able to colonize these disturbed areas; species diversity therefore did not increase. The gaps were instead filled by <em>Q. borealis</em>, a later successional species. This may be explained by the close proximity of acorn-producing <em>Q. borealis</em> to clearings and the greater distances of other species better suited to germinate and grow in these openings.