Presettlement vegetation of the North Carolina Piedmont.
Schwartz, Miguel*,1, Dobbs, Rebecca2, Ruvane, Mary2, 1 Duke University, Durham, NC2 UNC, Chapel Hill, NC
ABSTRACT- Witness trees recorded in historical surveys have been used to reconstruct presettlement vegetation in many parts of North America, leading to a better understanding of vegetation patterns before the effects of Europeans. For some parts of North America, Government Land Office records make the process of reconstructing vegetation patterns easier - thus more is known about these areas. Because of the unique and unplanned nature of settlement in the southeastern U.S., less is known about the vegetation in this area of the country. We reconstructed cadastral maps of a section of the North Carolina Piedmont. Using these maps, we were able to plot the positions of trees on the historical landscape and model the abundances and affinities of several tree species. We conduct tests of surveyor bias and landscape bias, finding little evidence for surveyor preference but a pattern of non-random landscape sampling. Using a disturbance model, we make predictions about fire return intervals in the presettlement landscape.
Key words: witness trees, historical records, Piedmont
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