Forest Ecology Research Examining Community Composition and Structure
Biodiversity of Natchez Trace State Forest, TN

Stewardship of public lands requires knowledge of what those lands hold. An inventory of biological and non-biological resources should include the common and rare communities, threatened and endangered species, and the relationships of these communities or species to environmental factors. Further, it has become increasingly recognized that biotic surveys need to document the spatial context of the ecosystems that comprise and interact within the boundaries of specified public lands. So important are these types of information that a nation-wide effort examining ecosystems at multiple scales is currently underway. The Gap Analysis Project (GAP), which was initiated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, employs a variety of geographical information system (GIS) methods and field sampling techniques to map the known and predicted distributions of biotic and abiotic resources. Under this program, each state is charged with the production of an inventory of their biological resources.

Land Between The Lakes

In 1986, James S. Fralish joined The Center for Field Biology-LBL as a consultant with the responsibility to develop a forest ecology research program. The primary objectives of the program were to study the composition, structure and diversity of forest community components (overstory tree, understory sapling and seedling strata, midstory shrub stratum and the herbaceous layer) and the relationship of these components to site environment factors (e.g., soil water holding capacity, soil nutrients, aspect, elevation, slope position). Approximately 300 forest stands have been studied, data analyzed, and community characteristics, structure, and environmental relationships identified and documented. Over the past 14 years, the program has been developed with the help of various senior researchers and graduate students.

The research encompasses three main research questions: 1) what was the historical vegetation of Land Between The Lakes (LBL), 2) what is the composition and structure of the current forest communities and how do the forest communities relate to environmental parameters, and 3) what are the effects of various land stewardship practices (i.e., disturbances) on the forest communities.

Publications from this research:

Franklin, Scott B., David M. Close & James S. Fralish. In press. Forest ecology. In: James S. Fralish & Edward W. Chester (eds.) Land Between The Lakes, Kentucky and Tennessee: Four Decades of Tennessee Valley Authority Stewardship. Center for Field Biology, Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN.

Franklin, Scott B., David J. Gibson, Philip A. Robertson, John T. Pohlmann & James S. Fralish. 1995. Parallel analysis: a method for determining significant principal components. Journal of Vegetation Science 6:99-106. PDF

Franklin, Scott B. 1994. Late-Pleistocene and Holocene vegetation history of Land Between The Lakes, Kentucky and Tennessee. Transactions of the Kentucky Academy of Sciences 55:6-19. PDF

Franklin, Scott B., Philip A. Robertson, James S. Fralish & Stephan M. Kettler. 1993. Overstory vegetation and successional trends of Land Between The Lakes, U.S.A. Journal of Vegetation Science 4:509-520. PDF

Publications from this research:

Kupfer, John A. & Scott B. Franklin. 2000. Implementation and evaluation of an ecological land type classification system, Natchez Trace State Forest, western Tennessee, USA. Landscape and Urban Planning 706:1-12. PDF

Franklin, Scott B., John A. Kupfer, Jack W. Grubaugh, & Michael L. Kennedy. 2004. An assessment of biotic diversity of Natchez Trace State Forest . Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 93:30-54. PDF

Franklin, Scott. B. & John A. Kupfer. 2004. Forest Communities of Natchez Trace State Forest, western Tennessee Coastal Plain. Castanea 69:15-29. PDF


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