Testing tree indicator species for classifying site productivity in southern Appalachian hardwood stands
Composite indices of site moisture and fertility regimes, site variables, and individual tree species were tested for their relationship with site productivity on forest survey plots in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Mew annual basal area increment was significantly associated with the fertility index and site variables including elevation, slope gradient, and stand merchantable size. Four species, including Fraxinus americana and Liriodendron tulipifera, were individually significantly associated with sites of high productivity. Sites of low productivity were indicated by the presence of Quercus coccinea, Q. prinus, or several other species. Results of this exploratory study suggest that tree indicator species may be useful for evaluating forest site quality in hardwood-dominated, many-aged, multi-species stands of the southern Appalachians.