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Hemlock-Hardwood Community Relationships in the Highlands of Southeastern New York

Jeffrey D. Charney
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
Vol. 107, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1980), pp. 249-257
Published by: Torrey Botanical Society
DOI: 10.2307/2484228
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2484228
Page Count: 9
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Hemlock-Hardwood Community Relationships in the Highlands of Southeastern New York
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Abstract

Communities of eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr.) appear to be increasing in area at three sites in the Highlands of southeastern New York. Transects across ecotones in the Sterling Forest-Harriman Park region indicate advance of hemlock seedlings, saplings and mature growth. In some cases, hemlock saplings constitute upwards of 70% of seedlings and saplings and occupy a greater portion of ecotonal areas than do hardwoods. Mature hemlock growth dominates these transitional areas with importance values of 79 or greater. Invasion of broadleaf communities by hemlock apparently is being favored by the overall rise in precipitation levels over the past approximately 50 years. Once confined to steep-sloped ravines and northerly exposures, hemlock appears to be encroaching upon areas of modified relief as a result of more favorable microclimate. In addition to hemlock's ability to monopolize surface water supplies by virtue of its shallow, lateral rooting, other autecological features aid in facilitating a greater successional role for this conifer. These include hemlock's extreme light tolerance, its natural longevity and its ability to invade sites that reflect many different topographic and edaphic conditions.

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