McGivern, James , Bocian, Lindsey , Brown, Nathalie-Ann , Perenic, Joseph , Ganger, Michael .
Life on the fringe: characterization of a forest-field ecotone in the Erie Bluffs State Park using hierarchical clustering and indicator species analysis.
The Erie Bluffs State Park is a 450-acre park located in northwestern Pennsylvania. The park includes many communities including broadleaf terrestrial forest, broadleaf terrestrial woodland, broadleaf palustrine forest, terrestrial herbaceous openings, as well as agricultural fields. Approximately 441 vascular plant species occur within these communities, including species rare to Pennsylvania. One ubiquitous plant community found within the park is an ecotone formed where the forest and field habitat converge, hereafter referred to as the fringing habitat. This fringing habitat is composed of species typical to forests and fields, along with a few species unique to this ecotone. Within the fringing habitat are 158 species of the total 441 found within the park itself (approximately 36%). The long-term development of the park includes converting currently farmed areas into old field habitats. The fringing habitat may serve as a source of colonists for these old fields and therefore an accurate understanding of the composition of the species within the fringing habitat is crucial in predicting the long term development of these fields. To characterize the vegetation, 146 quadrats were established within the fringing habitat. Quadrats were 1 m wide and were located 50 m apart. The presence of vascular plant species within quadrats was determined, and two methods of vegetation analysis were applied to characterize the fringing habitat. Hierarchical clustering and indicator species analyses were used jointly to classify the fringing habitat. Hierarchical analysis organized the quadrats by species similarity into a dendrogram. Indicator species analysis was then applied to divide the dendrogram into 5 branches, representing the most ecologically meaningful groupings. The distribution of these groups was organized spatially along environmental gradients. The environmental factors associated with the groups include soil type, sun exposure, and arboreal influences. The vegetation patterns in the fringing habitat can be used predict future field development after they are allowed to go fallow.
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1 - Gannon University, Biology, 109 University Square, Erie, PA, 16541, USA
Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Location: Portland Room/Chase Park Plaza
Date: Monday, July 11th, 2011
Time: 9:15 AM