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Theresa Quelch

Tree Lab Report

Ecological Principles

Sampling Ecological Communities: The Tree Stratum


Introduction:
When doing work in the field it is important to be able to identify what type of forest and habitat you are in and this is usually done by describing the vegetation that is around you. When describing an area by vegetation, the dominant plants of the area are used to label the area, which for our location is well described by McCormick in his work on the Vegetation of the Pine Barrens. (McCormick, 1979)For an example, a forest with 20 large pines and 10 small oaks would be a pine oak forest. On the other hand, if there had been 20 large oaks and 10 small pines it would have been an oak pine forest. However not all forests are so easy to determine which is the more dominant species just by looking at it, therefore ways have been developed to make it easier to calculate out which is the more dominant species by using species dominance and importance values and comparing these results to the findings of Whitakers work on Species importance. (Whittaker, 1972) For this study, we are going out into the forests around the Stockton campus to a set of neighboring locations, Upland Tower for the Tuesday lab and Tower South for Thursday lab. Our goal is to learn about sampling ecological communities by counting the trees in our given areas. We are also going to learn how to calculate their importance value and dominance in the community by measuring their diameter and following the procedures outlined in our lab handouts. (Cromartie 2011a, 2011b) We will be responsible for identifying trees that we have spent the last few weeks learning to identify out in the field and accumulating data about those trees. Overall we will be learning to compare the vegetation of sites and how to identify the forest by its vegetation and compare it to the rest of Stockton College Campus.

Methods:
Class was split up into several groups and then told that we would be sampling specific areas in a hectare of forest. Before going out into the field, we discussed that each group would be sampling a circular area of about 400m2, which totaled out to be about 0.16 hectares. We would them compile all our data, including both lab sessions, and compare it to past years as well as other similar areas of the Pine Barrens. Our group, the Blue Barracudas, consisted of 5 people instead of four like the other groups. Each of us got a job to do to make the lab run smoother. The center person in our group was Jackie. She was responsible for not only keeping our center point constant but to make sure we never went beyond 11.28m as we went around the circle. Ashley aided Jackie in holding the other end of the measuring tape and moving it around the various obstacles in the area and letting us know which trees to include in our sampling and which to not include. Theresa was our tree measurer and was responsible for

measuring the trees as shoulder height and informing us of the diameter in centimeters (cm) of each tree in our 400m2 sampling area. Erin was the person responsible for recording the data that Theresa measured. Erin and Theresa along with Alex were also responsible for tree identification, which we double checked with Professor Cromartie before the end of lab. Alex was also responsible for the groups site description, navigation, measuring out to our selected plot, and aided the rest of the group members whenever there was need. Once all trees were surveyed, professor Cromartie put the information into easily understandable charts. We then were responsible for working in our groups again and calculating Importance values and constructing various graphs using the methods described in out lab handouts supplied by Professor Cromartie. (Cromartie 2011a, 2011b)

Study Area:
Picture of site area provided by Professor Cromartie with brief site description immediately following:

Atlantic County, NJ Stockton College. Across form the AS building and parking lot in the middle of the forest. Two similar areas sampled, Upland Tower and Tower South. The areas sampled were forested areas covered in leaf litter from both deciduous trees and evergreen trees. The Tuesday lab, Upland Tower area, still had some snow on the ground and the day was cold. Thursday lab, Tower South area, the snow had melted with no real sightings of snow on the ground, but rather some moist areas form the snow melt. The initial appearance of the sample area was that of an Oak Pine forest with most if not all pines being Pitch pine or Pinus rigida. Oaks seemed to be primarily White Oak or Quercus alba. There are a lot of shrubs covering the ground between the trees that we had to sample. These are Low bush Blueberry or Vaccinium vacillns, Dangleberry, and Huckleberry or Vaccinium membranaceum. Quick drawing to give an idea of Blue Barracuda specific sampling area with groups site description done by Alex immediately following:

Blue Barracudas site description done by Alex for the entire group: 3 Feb. Tree Sampling Lab: Atlantic County, NJ, Stockton College. 1 Hector Plot at Tower South 10:37hrs. About 30F, sunny skies, no wind. Our group is starting in the center of the one hector plot, and walking 35M West, and 30M South of the start point. We had also measured the tree at the starting center, measured 36.8cm in diameter. Walking towards our small plot we observed leaf and pine needle debris along the ground, along with other small grasses popping up from the soil. Also observed several pitch pines (Pinus rigida), and quite a few holly trees (Ilex opaca). Once reaching our plot our center person held the measuring tape as we measured out 11.28m. The goal was to count and measure the diameter of each tree within 11.28m of our circular plot. The plot was set on a slight slope, which continued to slope further down past the edge of the 11.28m mark. About 20m out from our plot we observed

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), low shrubs, most likely Dangle Berry, or Low Bush Blueberry (Vaccinium vacillans). We could also see College Drive about 25M ahead to the SW. Within our plot there were two Holly Trees (Ilex opaca) about 15M high, on opposite sides of the circular area. From observation the dominant tree within the plot was Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida). All were relatively the same height at about 20-25m. The other dominant trees where Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea), and White Oak (Quercus alba). One White Oak was missing its crown, but still alive with some leaves on the very bottom branches. There was another tree that registered as dead, possibly a pitch pine. Other small shrubs around the outskirts, possibly Smilax. Two very large Pitch Pines (Pinus rigida) were also measured outside of the plot measuring 41.7cm and 39.7cm.

Results and Data:


Site Speicies (scientific name) Upland Tower Quercus falcata Upland Tower Quercus velutina Upland Tower Pinus echinata Upland Tower Quercus prinus Upland Tower Quercus alba Upland Tower Pinus rigida Upland Tower Quercus coccinea Total Tower South Quercus phellos Tower South Quercus velutina Tower South Ilex opaca Tower South Nyssa sylvatica Tower South Quercus prinus Tower South Quercus coccinea Tower South Quercus alba Tower South Pinus rigida Total # Rel density Basal Area m2 Rel Dom 1 1 0.038 1 2 2 0.043 1 2 2 0.042 1 3 3 0.067 2 26 27 0.593 16 22 22 1.235 34 42 43 1.612 44 98 100 3.629 100 1 1 0.012 0 1 1 0.029 1 2 1 0.048 1 3 2 0.037 1 4 3 0.127 3 33 24 1.117 26 51 38 1.156 27 41 30 1.783 41 136 100 4.31 100 Freq Rel Freq Imp Val 0.25 6 8 0.25 6 9 0.25 6 9 0.75 17 22 1 22 65 1 22 79 1 22 109 4.5 100 300 0.25 6 7 0.25 6 7 0.25 6 8 0.25 6 9 0.5 11 17 1 22 72 1 22 87 1 22 94 4.5 100 300

Table 1: showing the counts from our lab and all the calculated results for the basal area, frequency, and importance value. Table is sorted so that Importance Values are in order from smallest to largest.

Dominance - Diversity
1000 Importance Value

100 Upland Tower 10 Tower South

1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Graph 1: the dominance vs. diversity for the 2011 lab. Comparing the two sampling areas of Upland Tower to Tower South we can see that their species importance values are equivalent.
Table2 Plot # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Pinus rigida
Site Upland Tower Tower South Upland Tower Tower South Upland Tower Tower South Upland Tower Tower South Plot Tag NE NE NW NW SE SE SW SW # Cum. Avg Area samp 4 4 0.04 6 5 0.08 6 5 0.12 18 9 0.16 4 8 0.2 6 7 0.24 8 7 0.28 11 8 0.32

Table3 Plot # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Quercus alba
Site Plot/Tag Upland Tower NE Tower South NE Upland Tower NW Tower South NW Upland Tower SE Tower South SE Upland Tower SW Tower South SW # 8 6 7 16 5 17 12 6 Cum. Avg Area samp. 8 0.04 7 0.08 7 0.12 9 0.16 8 0.2 10 0.24 10 0.28 9 0.32

Quercus coccinea
Plot # 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Site Plot/Tag Upland Tower NE Tower South NE Upland Tower NW Tower South NW Upland Tower SE Tower South SE Upland Tower SW Tower South SW # Cum. Avg Area samp. 7 7 0.04 13 10 0.08 11 10 0.12 3 9 0.16 9 9 0.2 12 9 0.24 15 10 0.28 5 9 0.32

Tables 2-4: show both the actual amount of the three most abundant trees in the sampled areas as well as the cumulative results that we calculated out

Cumulative Avg- Area Sampled


12 10

Cumulative Average

8 Pinus rigida 6 4 2 0 0.04 0.08 0.12 0.16 0.2 0.24 0.28 0.32 Quercus alba Quercus coccinea

Graph 2: show us how the three main species of trees compare in their cumulative average number of trees vs. the cumulative area sampled in meters. Here we can see that Quercus alba and Quercus coccinea are more prominent in the overall cumulative area sampled then Pinus rigida.
Table 5 Species Pinus rigida Quercus alba Quercus coccinea Quercus prinus Quercus velutina Pinus echinata Quercus falcata Nyssa sylvatica Quercus phellos Ilex opaca

Upland Tower
NE y y y y y NW y y y SE y y y y SW y y y y NE y y y

Tower South
NW y y y y SE y y y y SW y y y y

y y y y y

Site Upland Tower Upland Tower Upland Tower Upland Tower Tower South Tower South Tower South Tower South

Plot/Tag NE NW SE SW NE NW SE SW

Cum. # of speicies Area samp 5 0.04 6 0.08 7 0.12 7 0.16 7 0.2 9 0.24 9 0.28 10 0.32

Tables 5-6: show which species where in the site area and the cumulative count of species per area sampled.

Cumulative Species - Area Sampled


12 Cumulative Species 10 8 6 4 2 0 0.04 0.08 0.12 0.16 0.2 0.24 0.28 0.32 Cumulative Avg

Graph 3: shows us how as the area sampled gets bigger we see more diversity in the overall amount of species in the sample area. We can see that we start out with only 5 species in a .04 hectare area but as the area gets bigger up to .32 hectare that the number of species seen is also larger.

Discussion:
Looking over the data we collected it is easy to see that both the Upland Tower site and the Tower South site make up two very similar areas with the same overall species makeup, however looking more closely at the dominant species listed by importance values in Table 1 we can see that there are some interesting differences. Using the calculated Importance values for the two locations, Quercus coccinea or Scarlet Oak with an importance value of 109 out of 300 is more dominant in the Upland Tower site by a significant amount with Pinus rigida or Pitch Pine coming in second with an importance value of 79 out of 300 and Quercus alba or White Oak coming in third with an importance value of 65 out of 300. Comparing this sampling site to McCormicks paper on the Vegetation of the Pine Barrens( McCormick, 1979) it seems to fit into the Upland Vegetation description, with the closest fit to Oak-Pine forest. However in McCormicks description of the oak pine forest he explains that Quercus velutina or Black oak is typically the more dominant oak but in our sampling at Upland Tower site it is the Quercus coccinea or Scarlet Oak that is the dominant oak. In fact, at the Upland Tower site Quercus velutina shows very little importance with an importance value of 9 out of 300 and showing up in only the Northeast portion of the sampling area. So in the end I would classify the Upland Tower Site alone as a Scarlet Oak-Pitch Pine- White Oak forest. The Tower South sampling site at first glance appears to have the same make up as the Upland Tower site; however comparing the importance values in table 1 we can see that the appearance of such is not necessarily correct. The dominant species in the Tower South site is the Pinus rigida with an importance value of 94 out of 300, second would be Quercus alba with an importance value of 87 out of 300, and third would be Quercus coccinea with an importance value of 72 out of 300. Again just as with

the Upland Tower site the Tower South site also does not fit perfectly into one of McCormicks classification slots(McCormick, 1979). This is because of the low importance of the Quercus velutina or Black Oak which for this site is only 7 out of 300 with only one tree noticed in the Northwest portion of the sampling area. However, even though Pinus rigida has the highest importance value Tower South cannot be classified as a Pine Oak forest because in McCormicks classification( McCormick, 1979) system Oaks are all counted together to figure out the difference in a Pine-oak forest vs. an Oak- Pine forest. Also he states that the Pinus rigida should account for about 50% (McCormick, 1979) of then tree stems of the area which does not fit the Tower South samplings. Therefore I would still classify this area as an Oak-Pine forest but made up of Pitch Pine-White Oak-Scarlet Oak forest. Grouping the two sites, Upland Tower and Tower South, together we can see that this combined area is an Oak-Pine forest with the three most dominant trees being, in no particular order, Quercus alba, Quercus coccinea, and Pinus rigida. Looking over tables 2-4 and graph 2 we can see that when added together it is clearer that as we increased the area sampled the overall average of trees sampled supports the Scarlet oak-White Oak- Pitch pine forest. So we can see that alone the Tower South site is a little abnormal but combined with its neighboring Upland tower site it fits more logically into a classification. This could be explained that the Tower South site is more of a transitional site from the Scarlet Oak-White Oak-Pitch Pine version of the Oak-Pine forest into another forest classification; however more research would be needed to prove this hypothesis. This hypothesis could also be somewhat supported by the fact that as we increased the size of the sampling area, we increased the amount of species that we were seeing in the sampling areas. Keeping that in mind, we expanded our comparison of McCormicks classification(McCormick, 1979) to include the whole of the Stockton Campus that has been sampled from 1990 to 2011 that was supplied by Professor Cromartie (Cromartie 2011a, 2011b). Looking over all the data it appears that the majority of the samples are either Oak-Pine forest or Pine-oak forest with some areas of Cedar swamp forest. The cumulative data also shows that just as with our sampling the three primary trees of the campus are (in no particular order) Quercus alba or White Oak, Quercus coccinea or Scarlet Oak, and Pinus rigida or Pitch Pine in the non-swamp forests. This shows that even with a smaller sampling area such as our Upland Tower and Tower South areas you can indeed get a significant idea of the overall larger forest by following the Methods outlined in our lab provided by Professor Cromartie (Cromartie 2011a, 2011b). Comparing the sampling of the whole of the college campus to our own much smaller sites also shows the idea that the larger an area of study the more species you accumulate in the study, which was also noticed in our smaller area. Going back to graph 1 and looking over the accumulated data for m 1990 to 2011 we can see that the importance value curve of the dominance diversity graph follows one of the curves Whitaker discusses in his work on Species importance. (Whittaker, 1972) At first glance one might compare our personal lab results to the random-niche boundary curve, however when the larger area of the entire Stockton campus is taken into consideration it looks more like the lognormal distribution curve. This is because as they number of species increases the curve with the increase in the overall area of the study, the importance of one species tends to become more obvious and the various other species start falling into an importance cure that accentuates the numbers of species found in the sample. Unfortunately

when we cut the larger area into smaller groups the importance curve represents the random-niche boundary curve because of the limited area not being able to include all the species that may be in a larger sampling area (Whittaker, 1972). To conclude, we can see that even though there are some variations and differences in results depending on the size of the sampling area that in general the results come out to be very similar. This suggests that this type of study can be done with smaller scale sampling and still largely represent the majority of the entire community. That said this lab has been a great success in providing information to classify the local areas around the Stockton Campus as primarily Oak Pine forest with its top three tree species being Quercus coccinea or Scarlet Oak, Quercus alba or White Oak, and Pinus Rigida or Pitch Pine. If given the chance to do this lab again, I would like to include more information such as pH, Water availability, Soil breakdown, etc. To possibly help explain why Quercus coccinea or Scarlet Oak is more predominant over the other Oaks. In addition I would also like to try and find a reason as to why, contrary to McCormicks description of Oak-Pine forests, Quercus velutina or Black Oak is not the predominant Oak species. (McCormick, 1979)

References:
Cromartie, J. 2011a. Sampling Ecological Communities: The Tree Stratum. Ecology Lab. Richard Stockton College of NJ, Environmental Studies Program http://loki.stockton.edu/~cromartj/ecology/tree%20sampling.htm

Cromartie, J. 2011a. Sampling Ecological Communities: The Tree Stratum-data analysis and report. Ecology Lab. Richard Stockton College of NJ, Environmental Studies Program http://loki.stockton.edu/~cromartj/ecology/tree%20data%20analysis%20report.htm

McCormick, J. 1979. The Vegetation of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. pp 229-243 in Forman, R. The Pine Barrens: Ecosystem and Landscape. New York. Academic Press.

Whittaker, R. H. 1972. Species Importance. in Communities and Ecosystems, second ed. New York. Macmillian Publishing Co., Inc.. 385 pp.

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