Species diversity and composition in old growth and second growth rich coves of the southern Appalachian Mountains
Because of ongoing debate over the long term impacts of logging, we conducted
a study to assess if second growth (70 6 10 years) rich coves differ from old growth rich coves
(. 125 years) in species diversity or composition. We sampled twenty-six 0.1 ha plots,
representing these two age classes. We distributed the plots amongst three randomly selected
mountain ranges in the southern Appalachians of North Carolina, and sampled each
mountain range in separate years. We used nested subplots of 0.01 m2, 0.1 m2, 1 m2, 10 m2,
100 m2, and 1000 m2 to establish species-area relationships (SARs) for each age class. We
found no significant differences between the SARs for the two age classes, nor did we find
significant differences between age classes using the Simpson, Shannon-Wiener, or Sorensen
indices of species diversity. However, we found that total cover of all plant species was greater
in old growth rich coves, and that 10% of the tested species had lower abundance in second
growth. No species were present in old growth and absent in second growth, but species with
lower second growth abundance may warrant future study.
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