Zoar Valley Update

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Erik Danielsen
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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:46 pm

Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:57 pm

Josh, fortunately some nice published literature gives us a solid answer to your question- but the answer is "neither." The stand is in primary succession- as in, has never been logged in the time since it became a stable deposited landform- but is still shifting in composition from the pioneer species to an eventual climax composition. The stand age in study plots cored on this terrace was 110-124 years, with sugar maples listed as being the oldest in that range (likely black maple, as the authors did not distinguish the two). Select pockets of trees on the oldest edges of the landform (near the downstream edge and against the canyon wall) are a little older than the study plots sampled and include the largest sycamores and cottonwoods- the maximum dbh tree in the study plots was smaller than either of the superlative specimens pictured. One fallen sycamore among that group was cored and found to be a minimum of 190 years old.

Out on the terrace the level of down woody debris is not that high, but is increasing as the first generation of primary succession senesces and large limbs and whole trees drop. The view in the second photo is right along the canyon wall, so there is an additional influx of woody debris from trees on the more unstable slope. The trunk in the immediate foreground is from a massive cottonwood that had been the second largest in zoar. It just came down in the last couple years.

There is some influx of invasive honeysuckles and goutweed on this terrace, but a lot of what you're seeing are native saplings (including a nice thicket of sycamores popping up in a gap) and understory trees. Leaf drop has been delayed in a peculiar way this season. There's also a lot of nice natives shrubs and ferns still green, american fly-honeysuckle, pagoda dogwood, bladder fern, wood asters, etc.

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JHarkness
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by JHarkness » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:45 pm

Erik,

Really interesting. I find it fascinating that there's a forest still transition to it's climax stage which has never been logged, I imagine such forests are extremely rare. Leaf drop has been highly delayed here as well, in fact this is the latest I have ever seen peak fall foliage here, but the majority of the leaves here are long gone, mainly just beeches and red oaks have leaves now, and the only green to be found here are understory beeches and elm saplings. You might want to consider measuring a few of those sycamore saplings to monitor their growth over the next few years, I've seen some sycamores grow extremely fast and others extremely slow, but few of the ones I have seen have been in a proper forest and are generally just in thin forested riparian areas.

I don't remember hearing of that cottonwood before, how large was it?

Joshua
"Be not simply good; be good for something." Henry David Thoreau

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Erik Danielsen
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Re: Zoar Valley Update

Post by Erik Danielsen » Wed Oct 31, 2018 5:58 pm

Josh, it was recorded by Elijah in 2014 at 134.1'/13'9"cbh.

You're probably right that impressive forests of that sort are rare- the reason they exist here is that the landforms are young, deposited in a stable way by the river less than 250 years ago. On the other hand, less impressive unlogged forests in primary succession are found in riparian corridors all over the place, plenty of former gravel bars covered with >50 year old cottonwoods and willows technically meet those requirements. Most that had been developing for more than a few years by the time settlement got into the area probably did get logged, leaving these Zoar stands in rare company.

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