Robinson - Persistence Pays Off   Robert Leverett
  Nov 20, 2006 08:11 PST 

   On Sunday, Monica, Gary Beluzo, and Steve Tilley went back to
Robinson SP and revisited a ravine with tall tuliptrees. With a much
clearer view of the canopy, we needed to make a last effort to confirm
the heights if the tulips there. We circled around to the other side of
the 70-foot deep ravine, took indecisive measurements and returned to
the near side. We got measurements of 138.0 to 139.7 taken by either
Gary or myself. These measurements were across the highest twigs that
were 51 to 52 yards distant. Those distances along with the angles
basal measurements led to the heights, just below 140. Then I zeroed in
on a distant-appearing twig and got 52.5 yards. I waited, repeated the
distance measurement, waited and repeated a third time. The distance
with the angle and the basal measurement led to 140.3 feet. However, at
the abse, I shot to the lower side of the trunk. Adjusting more to
mid-slope, I got 140.0 feet. So the tulip enters the list of
Massachusetts species confirmed to 140 or more feet in height. White
pine, white ash, and tuliptree are the three.

   This morning Ray Weber of Friends of Robinson SP confirmed that there
is another tuliptree ravine in Robinson. Obviously, we will investigate
it at the first opportunity. Other measurements of Robinson trees were
largely refinements of prior measurements. Robinson's RHI now stands at


Questions for Lee   Robert Leverett
  Nov 20, 2006 09:44 PST 


I am curious as to what your thoughts are about Robinson State Park in
terms of probable ecological trajectories? I know you saw enough red
maple saplings to suggest its growth as a percentage of total stems in
the future.

DCR seems to think that the trees in the even-aged areas of Robinson's
forests are either going to die together to create a scene of standing
dead snags or the trees are all blow down together. I find either
scenario unlikely. Small wind events and individual tree mortality is
what I would predict - except where insect infestations trump the
slower, more deliberate processes.

   Care to make any predictions based on what you saw?

Re: Questions for Lee   Lee E. Frelich
  Nov 21, 2006 07:56 PST 


Except for the red pine stand, and except for the 0.001 annual probability
of a large-scale blowdown, you are correct, the trees in even-aged stands
will die over a period of several decades, gradually making a transition to
an uneven-aged forest.

Red maple is still in relatively early stages of invasion. You have the
choice of limiting it by prescribed fire or mechanically, or letting it
take over, which will take several decades.

If I were you I would advocate a program of exotic species removal,
especially Norway maple. You can probably get volunteers to do most of the
exotic removal work, although you need a forester who is into education and
supervision of local people.   Ditto for Ice Glen. Norway maple there has
not gotten to the explosion point yet, but it will soon.

Re: Questions for Lee   Gary A. Beluzo
  Nov 21, 2006 08:17 PST 

When you speak of the red maple "taking over" what does this mean from an
ecological standpoint? Also, if left alone (no further anthropogenic
meddling) how long would it take for a presettement tree species composition
to reappear, or could it?

I am wondering if left to natural processes (return to autopoiesis) whether
or not we could expect the larger contiguous forests in MA to revert back to
a pre-settlement forest, or if the current "state of the system" would make
that trajectory unlikely and something "new" would result? Are there
previously clearly European forests that have reverted back to a true
pre-settlement state? I am trying to think of forests somewhere in the
world that were disturbed by humans long enough ago (and then left to go
natural again) to look at as examples.

Re: Questions for Lee   Lee E. Frelich
  Nov 21, 2006 10:04 PST 

Red maple taking over means it becoming the dominant species because it is
moderately shade-tolerant, produces a lot of seed, and can grow on all
types of soils. Its dominance would last until something more
shade-tolerant replaced it, such as sugar maple, hemlock or Norway maple,
although on poor sandy soils it might form a climax in the absence of fire.

I don't think the forest in MA would ever return to their presettlement
state. Their landscape context and disturbance frequencies are different,
and the climate is different now than when the previous forest developed.
Although you consider them larger, they are pretty small fragments of the
former forest.

We don't know if European forests have returned to a true presettlement
state, since we don't have enough information on what the presettlement
state was. However, I doubt it because dominance by humans occurred along
with climate change that would also have changed the forests in the absence
of people.