Fuel and vegetation changes in southwestern, unburned portions of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA, 2003-2019

dc.contributor.authorCoates, T. Adamen
dc.contributor.authorFord, W. Marken
dc.coverage.countryUnited Statesen
dc.description.abstractOverstory basal area, ericaceous shrub cover (Kalmia latifolia L. and Rhododendron maximum L.), and fuels (i.e., woody fuel loads and depths and O Horizon thickness) were assessed within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA, in 2003 - 2004. Due to recent wildfire activity within the southern Appalachian Mountain region (including Great Smoky Mountains National Park), the potential spread and expansion of ericaceous shrubs, and the impacts of the hemlock woolly adelgid (Adelges tsugae Annand) on eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carriere), these same ecosystem components were again assessed in 2019. Elevation and moisture regime (xeric, intermediate, and mesic) were included in this assessment as potential influential factors. An evaluation of repeated measurements from 40 plots suggested that O Horizon thickness did not change significantly over the 16-year period, but increased as elevation increased, and moisture regime (xeric O Horizon thickness > mesic O Horizon thickness) was a significant, related factor. The sum of 1-, 10-, and 100-h fuel loads (fuels less < 7.6 cm diameter) increased, whereas woody fuel depth decreased over the 16-year period. No significant changes in 1000-h fuel loads (> 7.6 cm diameter), total woody fuel loads, ericaceous shrub cover, total basal area, or live T. canadensis basal area were observed. Live T. canadensis basal area decreased with increasing elevation. Dead, standing T. canadensis basal area increased from 2003-2019, and that increase was most pronounced as elevation increased on xeric and intermediate sites. Overall, we found that: 1. hypothesized increases in total woody fuel loads and ericaceous shrub cover were not present; and 2. elevation and moisture regime were most related to observed changes in vegetation and fuel condition.en
dc.description.notesThe authors wish to acknowledge Rob Klein for his assistance with field operations in 2019 and for a thoughtful review of an earlier draft of this manuscript. Kevin Hiers also reviewed an earlier version of this manuscript and his comments and suggestions greatly improved the quality of this work. The authors wish to acknowledge John Kese, Brandon Hughes, and Nick Boley for their hard work and perseverance in challenging field conditions during the 2019 re-sampling. We would also like to acknowledge Helen Mohr for sharing the original 2003-2004 data. Many thanks, as well, to Tom Waldrop, Gregg Chapman, Lucy Brudnak, Chuck Flint, Mitch Smith, and others within the USDA Forest Service Southern Station Center for Forested Disturbance who envisioned and conducted the 2003-2004 sampling and analyses in GSMNP. Lastly, we thank the National Park Service for funding this effort (Task Agreement P19AC01059).en
dc.description.sponsorshipNational Park Service [P19AC01059]en
dc.description.versionPublished versionen
dc.publisherNortheast Forestry Universityen
dc.rightsCreative Commons Attribution 4.0 Internationalen
dc.subjectEastern hemlocken
dc.subjectHemlock woolly adelgiden
dc.subjectMountain laurelen
dc.titleFuel and vegetation changes in southwestern, unburned portions of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA, 2003-2019en
dc.title.serialJournal of Forestry Researchen
dc.typeArticle - Refereeden
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