Gap dynamics in mature, mesic quercus stands on the Cumberland Plateau, Alabama

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dc.contributor Shankman, David E.
dc.contributor Schweitzer, Callie J.
dc.contributor.advisor Hart, Justin L. Richards, Jacob Douglas
dc.contributor.other University of Alabama Tuscaloosa 2017-03-01T14:39:00Z 2017-03-01T14:39:00Z 2011
dc.identifier.other u0015_0000001_0000547
dc.identifier.other Richards_alatus_0004M_10644
dc.description Electronic Thesis or Dissertation en_US
dc.description.abstract Gap scale disturbances are important processes in forest stand development in the southern Appalachian Highlands. Canopy gaps within secondary forest throughout the southern Appalachian Highlands have been documented as critical mechanisms in canopy tree replacement and stand regeneration. I quantified gap characteristics, gap formation and closure mechanisms, and intra-gap tree and sapling distribution patterns for 60 canopy gaps in secondary mesic, Quercus stands on the Cumberland Plateau in north Alabama. Snag-formed gaps were the most common. We documented the influence gap formation mechanisms had on gap size, which ultimately contributed to gap closure. The projected closure mechanism was significantly related to the area of the gap whereby smaller gaps usually closed via lateral crown expansion and larger gaps typically closed by subcanopy recruitment. Based on the results, I hypothesized that gaps exceeding 200 m2 had higher probabilities of closing via subcanopy recruitment rather than lateral crown expansion. Several gaps projected to close by subcanopy recruitment were doing so through Quercus capture. However, Quercus capture of gaps was restricted to upper slope position with low understory competition from shade tolerant species and adequate light levels based on the ratio of gap diameter to peripheral canopy height. Liriodendron tulipifera was projected to capture seven gaps, all of which were smaller than the hypothesized minimum gap area for capture by the species. The majority of gaps were projected to close via lateral crown expansion. Based on the composition of saplings and trees in gap environments, I project the forest to transition from a Quercus dominated system to one with much stronger Fagus grandifolia and Acer saccharum components. My study fills a void in the literature on the role of canopy gaps in secondary, mesic Quercus stands that established just prior to 1900 for the southern Appalachian Highlands region. en_US
dc.format.extent 42 p.
dc.format.medium electronic
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language English
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher University of Alabama Libraries
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Electronic Theses and Dissertations
dc.relation.ispartof The University of Alabama Libraries Digital Collections
dc.relation.hasversion born digital
dc.rights All rights reserved by the author unless otherwise indicated. en_US
dc.subject Physical geography
dc.subject Geography
dc.title Gap dynamics in mature, mesic quercus stands on the Cumberland Plateau, Alabama en_US
dc.type thesis
dc.type text University of Alabama. Department of Geography Geography The University of Alabama master's M.S.

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