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Visualizing Plant Community Change Using Historical Records

Visualizing Plant Community Change Using Historical Records
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Author(s): Evelyn Brister (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA), Elizabeth Hane (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA) and Karl Korfmacher (Rochester Institute of Technology, USA)
Copyright: 2013
Pages: 18
Source title: Emerging Methods and Multidisciplinary Applications in Geospatial Research
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Donald P. Albert (Sam Houston State University, USA) and G. Rebecca Dobbs (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1951-7.ch001


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Ecological data from land surveys from 1811 for the 100,000-acre Connecticut Tract in western New York were transcribed and then analyzed using ArcGIS and IDRISI GIS software. The surveys contained both witness tree data and line descriptions, which were analyzed for species composition and community type. Results illustrate that many changes have occurred in species composition. Possible causes of these changes to the mature forests may include introduced pests and diseases or anthropogenic land-use change. Comparisons to the National Wetlands Inventory Database reveal that while some of the wetlands that were present in 1811 still exist today, particularly in the Byron-Bergen Swamp and in the wetlands along the Lake Ontario shoreline, other original wetlands have been lost while new wetlands have replaced some upland forests. This study helps elucidate past causes of temporal and spatial variability, and it provides a reference point for land managers who need to understand the effects of land-use history for ongoing restoration efforts.

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