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Composition, Structure, and Historical Development of Northern Red Oak Stands along an Edaphic Gradient in North-Central Wisconsin

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Forty-six relatively undisturbed northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) stands in north-central Wisconsin were surveyed during the summers of 1986 and 1987. Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) and overstory importance values were used to separate stands into four groups: Q. rubra--Acer saccharum, Q. rubra-A. rubrum--A. saccharum, Q. rubra--Q. alba-A. rubrum, and Q. rubra--A. rubrum-Betula papyrifera. Stand position along DCA axis 1 was significantly correlated with soil texture, which was interpreted as an edaphic gradient from rich, mesic to poorer, dry mesic sites. All groups were dominated by overstory northern red oak; however, changes in understory dominance from sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) to red maple (Acer rubrum L.) occurred from mesic to dry mesic groups. Moreover, basal area and age decreased and shrub cover increased from mesic to dry mesic groups. Historical data suggest that northern red oak was relatively unimportant in presettlement forests in the area, with the exception of transitional dry mesic sites. Most of north-central Wisconsin was completely logged and physical evidence of fire was found within or near two-thirds of the stands surveyed. These disturbances are thought to have created conditions favorable for northern red oak establishment, leading to its increased dominance in the region. Age and diameter data indicated that northern red oak were consistently the oldest and largest individuals in all stands and formed an even-aged canopy. Substantial northern red oak recruitment into the tree size class seemed to last for only 25-30 years after disturbance (probably until canopy closure), after which only shade-tolerant species were successful in the understory. Under today's low disturbance regime, northern red oak may be restricted to a single generation with a strong likelihood of being replaced by sugar maple on mesic sites, a combination of sugar and red maple on transitional sites and red maple on dry mesic sites. For. Sci. 36(2):276-292.

Keywords: Sugar maple; disturbance; fire; logging; red maple; regeneration; succession

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Department of Forestry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53706

Publication date: 1990-06-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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