Recent Successional Changes in a Former Chestnut-Dominated Forest in Southwestern Virginia


Anurag Agrawal

Additional Authors:

Steven L. Stephenson


June – 1995


A former chestnut-dominated forest community on the NW-facing slope of Bald Knob on Salt Pond Mountain in southwestern Virginia has been studied previously in 1932 and 1982/83. In the present study, short-term changes in the composition of the tree (stems ≥10 cm DBH) and small tree (stems ≥2.5 cm but <10 cm DBH) strata since 1983 were assessed and growth-trend patterns in red oak (Quercus rubra L.) following the elimination of chestnut from the canopy by chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica [Murr.] Barr) were examined. During the past decade, the composition of the canopy has changed very little relative to the dramatic changes of the previous 50 years. Analysis of basal area increment growth patterns of 26 red oaks at least 79 years old clearly shows a dramatic release that began in the mid-1920s.