2002 Denver Annual Meeting (October 27-30, 2002)

Paper No. 11
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM


ADAMS, Kenneth B.1, FRANZI, David A.1, MIHUC, Timothy B.2, FULLER, Robert D.1, ROMANOWICZ, Edwin A.1 and WU, Mei Yin1, (1)Center for Earth and Environmental Science, State Univ of New York at Plattsburgh, 101 Broad Street, Plattsburgh, NY 12901, (2)Center for Earth and Environmental Science, SUNY Plattsburgh, Plattsburgh, NY 12901, david.franzi@plattsburgh.edu

The sandstone pavement pine barrens in northeastern New York are island ecosystems amidst the larger mosaic of northern hardwood and mixed hardwood-conifer forests. The pavements are areas of exposed bedrock created by the erosional effects of catastrophic floods from the drainage of proglacial lakes in the St. Lawrence Lowland more than 12,000 years ago. The boreal jack pine (Pinus banksiana) dominates many of the pavements because of its adaptations to fire and its ability to survive in a droughty, nutrient-deficient, high-stress environment. The jack pine barrens are oligotrophic communities in delicate equilibrium with existing hydrogeological and climatological conditions. Under normal conditions, jack pine requires periodic crown fires for successful regeneration to occur.

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.