DISTURBANCE IMPACTS ON SANDSTONE PAVEMENT PINE BARRENS AND ADJACENT HARDWOOD ECOSYSTEMS IN NORTHEASTERN NEW YORK
In January, 1998 several days of freezing rain blanketed 10 million hectares of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada with 2 to 10 cm of ice. Two million hectares of forests were severely affected, including the pine barrens and adjacent forests in Clinton County, New York. In 1998 Miner Institute, the largest landowner of pine barrens in the region, contracted a logging company to complete a restoration cutting on more than 200 hectares of forests that were heavily damaged by the ice storm.
The disturbance impacts of the ice storm and subsequent restoration cutting on the pine barrens and adjacent hardwood ecosystems is the focus of an interdisciplinary research effort that is sponsored by the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. The ice storm caused severe crown breakage in more than half of the jack pine and pitch pine (Pinus rigida) trees in the pine barrens. Moderate amounts of jack pine regeneration were found in the areas treated with a restoration cutting but no pine seedlings were observed in the ice storm-damaged stands. The restoration cutting showed that mechanical treatment, while not as effective as fire in regenerating jack pine, can bring about adequate amounts of jack pine regeneration, along with red maple (Acer rubrum), white birch (Betula papyrifera) and gray birch (Betula populifolia). In the hardwood forests, the disturbances caused shifts in importance of species present at the time of the disturbance rather than replacement of one plant community by another.