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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jordan Marshall

Sponsor Department/Program

Department of Biology

Student Department/Program

Department of Biology, and Department of International Language and Culture Studies

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Abstract

Northeastern Indiana’s geography consists mainly of agricultural fields and small, scattered forests, most of which are privately owned resulting in disjunct management strategies and equally isolated end goals for the forests. The purpose of this study was to identify differences and similarities in forest overstory composition and physical structure within fragments across a regional landscape. By understanding species and structural distributions across the region, forest management strategies to maximize diversity may be developed at the regional scale. Forest fragments were selected in Adams, Allen, and Wells Counties, Indiana. Based on forest area, a set of plot centers was randomly selected and a circular plot (500 m2) was established. In each plot, all tree species were identified, diameter at breast height measured, and geometrically located. Using an increment borer, cores were collected from the largest trees in each plot to determine an estimated mean forest age. Relationships between forest size, shape, isolation, age, and recent anthropogenic disturbance, and overstory canopy cover, richness, diversity, and density, were tested using simple linear regression. Regional importance values for species were calculated. Adams County forests had more canopy cover than the other two counties. Additionally, there were fewer forests within a 2 km buffer of the survey forests in Wells County compared to Adams County. Richness was positively related to forest area and negatively related with perimeter:area ratios. The top-5 species ranked by importance values were Ulmus americana, Acer saccharum, Acer rubrum, Carpinus caroliniana, and Carya ovata. Because of similarities across counties in many of the compositional and structural forest characteristics, there may be benefit in management recommendations to land owners that could be applied as a regional strategy. A deeper analysis is needed to fully understand and identify implications of forest size and shape in regards to maximizing species richness and occurrence.

Disciplines

Forest Sciences | Life Sciences

Characterization of Forest Fragment Structure in Northeastern Indiana

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