Characterization of an uncommon Northern Indiana forest type: Hackberry-American Elm-Green Ash

Document Type


Presentation Date


Conference Name

131st Annual Meeting of the Indiana Academy of Science

Conference Location

Indianapolis, IN


Urban and suburban development in the Midwest region, combined with continued agricultural land uses, has resulted in fragmented and isolated forest patches. These forests have intrinsic value as plant and wildlife habitat, as well as extrinsic value improving land value and human health. Moser Park is an urban forest property in Allen County, Indiana, managed by New Haven Parks and Recreation. We conducted a plant survey within the forested section of the park, identifying and quantifying abundance of understory, midstory, and overstory plants. We calculated species richness and Shannon’s index for all three strata and tested for relationships with environmental variables (i.e. canopy cover, soil compaction, litter depth, and light availability). The majority of understory species are typically associated with disturbed habitats, with very little resemblance to natural, pre-settlement habitat (i.e. low coefficient of conservation values). Understory cover was dominated by Rubus allegheniensis. Midstory stratum was less diverse than the understory and was dominated by an abundance of Fraxinus pennsylvanica, which was also an important species in the overstory. The forest at Moser Park matched the Hackberry-American Elm-Green Ash forest type. There was a lack of Quercus and many Acer species within the forest that are common in the region. Because of the distinct soil types and disturbance history a relatively uncommon forest type for the region has developed in Moser Park that differs from the majority of forested land surrounding it. Locations, such as Moser Park, with unusual plant community composition are important as forests in the region are relegated to isolated and small habitat patches. This work was conducted as part of a field botany course at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.



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