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Eighteen Years of Herbaceous Layer Recovery of a Recreation Area in a Mesic Forest

David J. Gibson, Eric D. Adams, Joseph S. Ely, Danny J. Gustafson, Douglas McEwen and Tracy R. Evans
The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society
Vol. 127, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 2000), pp. 230-239
Published by: Torrey Botanical Society
DOI: 10.2307/3088760
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3088760
Page Count: 10
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Eighteen Years of Herbaceous Layer Recovery of a Recreation Area in a Mesic Forest
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Abstract

We sampled permanent plots to observe the effects of removing recreational impacts on the botanical composition of the herbaceous layer vegetation in Ferne Clyffe State Park, Illinois. Prior to 1979 this site was a recreational facility used primarily as a picnic and camping area. Seventeen $1\>m^2$ plots were sampled in 1979, 1981, 1988 and most recently in 1997. Exotic species including Poa annua and Festuca pratensis dominated the flora early on, but these were replaced by mesic forest species including Carex jamesii, Muhlenbergia sylvatica and Ostrya virginiana. Species richness increased significantly across the four sampling periods, and most markedly from 1988-1997. Detrended Correspondence Analysis (DCA) was used to examine trends in overall species composition. The ordination illustrates the change in species composition of the herbaceous layer that occurred over 18 years. Our study shows that with little active management or restoration, species diversity increased as exotic species abundance declined and mesic forest species increased. This suggests that given enough time after discontinuation of high impact recreational use, the vegetation will succeed to a community comparable with the surrounding flora.

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