Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.
College of Science and Engineering
Max L. Partch
George W. Shurr
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Data were gathered in the upland, hardwood forest of St. John's Abbey and University to 1) determine the composjtion and stage of succession of the forest, 2) compare an area that had been clear-cut fifty years ago with· areas that had never been clear-cut, and 3)discover differences in the occurrence of species on north and south slopes.
Twelve areas of 10 acres each were chosen throughout the upland forest. The point quarter method was used to gather data on the trees listing the species of trees, circumference, and distance from sample point. On multiple trees, the circumferences of all trunks of the clone were recorded. In each quarter, the nearest shrub and sapling were also listed. The herbaceous plants present.in a 1 x l meter quadrat at each sample point were recorded and the topography of the area noted.
The vegetational continuum index value of each study plot was determined on the basis of relative dominance, relative frequency, and relative density of the trees. Possible continuum index values could range from 300 for the most pioneer stand to 3000 for the most climax stand. The frequencies of saplings, shrubs, and herbaceous plants were calculated for each study plot.
The continuum index values of the 12 plots ranged from 1470 for the plot that had been clear-cut 50 years ago to 2274 for the most climax area. Seventeen species of trees were present in the upland forest. Of these sugar maple was dominant in the four plots with highest continuum index values; red oak was dominant in the eight plots of lowest continuum index values. Bur oak saplings had greater frequencies in plots of lowest continuum index values. Sugar maple saplings had highest frequencies in plots of highest continuum index values. Some species of shrubs, vines, and herbaceous plants showed similar patterns of correlation with the continuum index.
In the plot that had been clear-cut in 1926 many of the trees had multiple trunks sprouted from stumps. The continuum index value of that plot increased slightly when dominance was based on the total basal area of all the trunks in a clone. The trunk density was twice that of any other plot but the average trunk size was much smaller.
Definite differences were noted in frequencies of species on north and south slopes. Bur oak was not found on north slopes. Birch, which occurs here in the southern limits of its natural range, had a frequency three times greater on north slopes than on south slopes. Red oak, red maple, sugar maple, basswood, trembling aspen, and green ash were present more frequently on northern slopes. Ironwood, large-toothed aspen, American elm, and black cherry had greater frequencies on southern slopes. Understory plants also showed differences in frequency according to slope.
St. John's Forest has plant species typical of several types of forest communities with species typical of southern dry mesic forest occurring most frequently. Succession appears to be progressing from dry to more mesic conditions. Variations are apparent throughout the forest. These variations could have been caused by 1) ground fires in some areas which have acted as retrogressive agents in forest succession, 2) a history of selective and clear-cutting, and 3) a topography which includes fairly level areas, steep hillsides, and areas relatively protected from fires by lakes and swamps.
Cofell, Lorraine Westrup, "A Study of the Vegetation in the Upland Forest of St. John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota" (1977). Culminating Projects in Biology. 1.