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Trees Survive Windstorms in Upland Hardwood Forest

In 1995, Hurricane Opal toppled trees throughout the South, including parts of the southern Appalachians. Wind is a common canopy disturbance in upland oak-hickory forests, but little has been reported on naturally formed large gaps of more than six trees where a partial canopy remains. With Erik Berg, SRS researchers Stanley Zarnoch and Henry McNab observed and modeled tree survivorship in and around 12 large gaps created by the hurricane. The scientists monitored the sites for 20 years. Many survivorship studies only last for five years or so, which may not be long enough to understand survivorship dynamics.

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