The Dynamics of Hueston Woods and a Review of the Question of the Successional Status of the Southern Beech-Maple Forest


John L. Vankat

Additional Authors:

Will H. Blackwell, Jr. and William E. Hopkins


December – 1975


Hueston, Woods, Beech, Maple, Forest

In the past the southern portion of the beech-maple forest has usually been considered to be in a stage in succession toward western and mixed mesophytic forests. A review of the pertinent literature indicates three lines of evidence for this: (1) the reproduction of sugar maple and certain other species often far exceeds that of beech, (2) the presence of young individuals of species characteristic of the mesophytic forests, and (3) the arrangement of the diverse plant communities of topographically dissected sites in a successional series. Our research in one stand of the southern beech-maple forest (Hueston Woods) compared the composition and structure of undisturbed portions with that of areas where the windfall of a large beech had created an opening in the canopy. Key differences found in the subcanopy layers of the closed and open sites indicate a mechanism of beech self-replacement, which, if found in other stands, could lead to the rejection of the successional hypothesis.