The Stages of Succession at Different Places in the Kilmer Ecological
A virtual trip to a portion of the Kilmer Ecological Preserve was undertaken to identify the stages of secondary succession at eighteen selected areas. After observing various plant species present at each area, it was noticed that different stages of succession existed at different places depending on several influencing and interrelated factors.
A virtual tour to the Kilmer Ecological Preserve. The tour started from the bus stop in front of Beck Hall. The trip covered 18 stations, including undisturbed forest, and abandoned farmlands that were used till 1920s and 1930s. The objective was to identify the stage of succession at each station depending on the plant species present in that area.
The existence of plant life in an area starts with the emergence of annuals and biennials, followed in succession by perennial herbs, shrubs and trees. Herbs are characteristic of early stage of succession; shrubs for later succession and finally trees are seen in mature/climax community. Although it is supposed to follow a schematic pattern, various disturbances and other influencing factors result in overlapping of and, in turn, alterations in these growth patterns. Hence, various areas with different backgrounds were selected in the Kilmer Ecological Preserve, to observe the kinds of plant species present and their growth forms; thereby, to identify the stage of succession in each area. The succession in these areas is called secondary succession as it occurs in previously colonized areas.
Results and Conclusion- The parts of the Preserve that were disturbed due to farming, wartime camp or fire showed initial stages of succession containing mainly perennial herbs and shrubs. The relatively undisturbed forest areas like the pre-1840 region showed well-grown trees symbolizing a climax community. Station no. 17, at the junction of the forest and the lawn, indicated the difference in succession between disturbed and undisturbed areas. The forest side showed the canopy, sub canopy and herbaceous zones, whereas the lawn side had only grass varieties that represent early succession. The following table gives a detailed description of the stage of succession and the kinds of plant species present at each station.
Stage number and description
Stage of succession
1. Powerline cut Earliest stage of succession containing pioneer species Annual herbs: foxtail grass, ragweed, and peppergrass. Perennial species: milkweed, common cinquefoil, plantain and strawberry.
2. 1929 field, beyond the rusted out Volkswagen Advanced stage with perennials and shrubs Goldenrod (perennial herb), little bluestem (perennial grass), sumac and maple (shrubs).
3. Open area in 1929 field Earlier stage surrounded by shrubs and treeshm Perennial grass: little bluestem.
Shrubs and trees: red maple, sumac and pin oak.
Poison ivy spreading on the ground.
4. Between the 1920 old field and the 1929 old field (mixed stand of birch, maple, pin oak) Later stage (young woodlands) Tree varieties: pin oak, maple and birch.
Shaded out earlier stage shrubs.
Poison ivy in shrub form.
5. Maple grove Beech-maple forest Maples
6. Clearing with apple tree Pioneer species Stilt grass, goldenrod, Queen Annes Lace.
6. Woody species at the clearing with the apple tree Birch-cherry forest Small cherry trees.
7. Multiflora rose, pin oak and mosses Earlier stage with old woodland on right side Multiflora rose, mosses, pin oak
8. Winged euonymous along path Various shrubs Winged euonymous, cedar.
9. Dogwoods and sumac, part of the 1930 field Later stage with perennials and shrubs Cedar, dogwood, sumac, Japanese honeysuckle, mosses and aspens
10. 1930 old-field, aspens and field-forest edge Emergent grass and shrubs Pioneer species: plantain, strawberry, cinquefoil and little bluestem.
Later shrubs: bayberry, sumac and cedar.
11. Pine grove Mature pine forest Old pine trees.
12. Forest with standing dead trees Oak-hickory forest Hickories, cedars, ash and dogwood.
13. Buell Brook Open water with pioneer organisms Snails, crayfish, insect larvae.
Trout lilies along the brook.
14. Pre-1840 forest, leftside of the T path beyond Buell Brook Climax community Canopy trees: oaks.
Understory and shrub layer: maple-leaf viburnum, flowering dogwood.
Herbs like mayapple, spring beauty and trout lily.
15. Spring ephimerals and poison ivy vines Perennials and shrubs Herbs: mayapple, spring beauty and trout lily.
Poison ivy vines.
16. Cherry and spice bush Birch-cherry forest Spicebush, .
17. Lawn and of climax community (forest) and early stage (lawn) Canopy, understory, shrub and herb layers on the forest side.
Dandelions on the lawn.
18. Origin of the parking lot No flora No plants except few algae.
The areas where the natural forest environment was disturbed by one or the other reasons, showed mostly perennials and shrubs. Large trees along with shade tolerate shrubs dominated the areas of the deep forest. The trails and roadsides mostly had perennial grass and herbs as they were capable of growing rapidly in open spaces, while withstanding sunlight. Areas of deep and relatively undisturbed forest showed few herbs as they couldnt grow under the shade of large trees and shrubs.
While there were no noticeable species at the origin of to its oily and warm water, some snails and crayfishes were found in its shallow stream deep in the forest. Some trout lilies were noticed growing along the bank in the forest.
All in all, it was evident that the range of plant species in all the areas covered varied greatly depending on various influences. The normal pattern of ecological succession is prone to natural and man made disturbances. Hence, an overlapping of plant forms that is unlikely for a standard succession is inevitable.