50 years of woody succession at the landscape level
Straw, William R
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Woody succession in a 235-hectare oldfield (Field 3-412), in South Carolina, USA, from 1951 through 2001, has been slower and has had different species frequencies and distributions than that predicted by southeastern U.S. ecological succession (SUSES) models. The SUSES models predicted that pines (Pinus spp.) would dominate Field 3-412 after about 50 years of succession, and that mixed oaks (Quercus spp.) and hickories (Carya spp.) would replace the pines and would dominate the field after about 100 to 150 years of succession. However, after 50 years of succession, only about 70 percent of Field 3-412 is wooded, with black cherry (Prunus serotina) and laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), particularly in areas that were more than 200 m from the field’s 1951—1966 field/forest edges. This and other cases of apparently aberrant woody succession suggest that ecological succession at larger spatial scales (e.g., at the landscape level) may operate differently than that predicted by current ecological succession theory and models, which were based on studies of sites that covered less than 10 hectares. If this is true, then ecological succession theory and models need to be revised to more accurately and realistically explain and predict ecological succession at larger spatial scales, because disturbances are occurring at increasingly larger scales, and revised models can used to develop more effective and efficient natural resource management applications.