Using NDVI to Investigate Evergreen Shrub Expansion along Hannah Run in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Kennedy, Lisa M.
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The introduction of invasive species has dramatically altered forests in the eastern United States over the last century and caused die-offs of common overstory trees, especially eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and American chestnut (Castanea dentata) (Ford et al., 2011). These die-offs have increased light incident on the forest floor and promoted the expansion of understory evergreen shrubs like rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum) (Cofer et al., 2018). Expansion of R. maximum often initiates a variety of environmental changes harmful to other species, such as dense shading that inhibits canopy tree recruitment, a reduction in soil nutrients, and changes in soil seed bank structure (Atkins et al., 2018) (Cofer et al., 2018). The goal of this research is to assess the possible expansion of evergreen shrubs along Hannah Run, Madison County, Virginia. This first order stream is on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains and has a mean basin elevation of 715m.