Fifty-Five Years of Change in a Northwest Georgia Old-Growth Forest


Rachel B. Butler

Additional Authors:

Michael K. Crosby B. Nicole Hodges


Feb 2018


Acer rubrum, forest changes, importance value, old-growth forest, succession

ABSTRACT Old-growth forests provide unique insight into historical compositions of forests in the eastern United States. Plots established within a mixed forest community within Marshall Forest in Rome, Georgia, in 1960 (and remeasured in 1989) were reassessed to determine changes in forest composition. The community has experienced approximately 10% increase in basal area since the previous measurement period. However, changes in species importance have occurred. Chestnut oak (Quercus montana), mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), white oak (Quercus alba), and flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) have all decreased in importance, while pignut hickory (Carya glabra), winged elm (Ulmus alata), yellow poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), and red maple (Acer rubrum) have all increased in importance. Additionally, there are no Pinus spp. saplings in the study area, indicating seedlings are not being recruited into the midstory. These changes indicate continued succession to a composition increasingly dominated by shade-tolerant species. The mixed forest community appears to be transitioning to an oak-hickory community. The assessment of late successional dynamics may help managers of similar forests to determine the best plan of action if they desire to maintain a mixed forest ecosystem.