Composition, Vegetation, and Structural Characteristics of a Presettlement Forest in Western Maryland


Kevin J. Dodds

Additional Authors:

Peter J. Smallidge


December – 1999


Presettlement Forests, Maryland, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, Quercus, Prunus virginiana

The vegetation, structure, and composition of a mature mixed-hardwood forest in western Maryland was sampled to determine its similarity to old-growth forests characteristic of the mid-Atlantic region. Size class distribution, maximum tree age, basal area, stem density, and coarse woody debris (CWD) volume were consistent with those recorded for other eastern old-growth forests. Betula lenta and Acer rubrum account for almost two-thirds of the overstory stems but only one-fifth of the basal area. Quercus spp. account for over two-thirds of the overstory basal area and about one-quarter of the stems. Betula lenta, A. rubrum, and Prunus virginiana were the most abundant saplings. No Quercus spp. were found in the sapling layer. Most downed debris were in advanced stages of decay and oriented in a southerly direction. Standing snags were primarily in advanced stages of decay, with Robinia pseudoacacia having the highest frequency. Volume of CWD averaged 54.16 m3/ha.