Top Ten stuff   Robert Leverett
  Jun 03, 2002 04:29 PDT 

       I'm responding via ENTS. Your message is too good not to be shared.
First, the Ice Glen acreage that we comb for the big trees is 30 acres at
most. If we allow for some unexplored corners, we could raise the number to
40, but not more. The Shagbark was re-measured a couple of times and I went
with the lower figure, thus my 131.2 feet. Beyond these comments, I'll let
others digest your thoughts before extending the thread, with one final
comment. Your observation that "Averaging ten species is very convenient,
and seems to strike a balance between a handful of exceptional specimens
running away with the prize, and southern diversity taking unfair
advantage." seems very much on target. I like your method of site ranking
better than any I've proposed in the past.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Colby Rucker" 
Sent: Sunday, June 02, 2002 11:14 PM
Subject: Top Ten stuff


Sounds like you had a good long tramp around the Glen. I entered the new
numbers on the top ten list, but got a slightly higher average. I had the
Shagbark as 131.7' by Leverett & Knuerr 12/15/01 (vs. 131.2' ), and
different addition.

Averaging ten species is very convenient, and seems to strike a balance
between a handful of exceptional specimens running away with the prize, and
southern diversity taking unfair advantage.

With a decent number of sites on the list, it's interesting to see how
specific areas rank, and speculate on why. For starters, I looked at the #
10 tree for each site, and noticed that CCW & MTSF were not only taller than
the sites ranked lower, but taller than a couple above. This goes to that
"deep depth" factor - lots of species over 100 feet.

Belt Woods is quite the opposite. Although the visual impact is rather
overwhelming, the tall-tree diversity is very low, with the #10 tree being
at the bottom of the list. If the list were based on just five species, the
list would be quite different: Sevier 158.1, Congaree 152.7, Belt 145.8,
Tamassee 145.8, Cook 141.9, Cohutta 140.0, Mohawk 139.8, Kelly 138.0, Chase
137.6, IceGlen 136.2, L.Pinnacle 130.0, Long Cane 129.7, Monroe 129.0, Grren
Lake 126.5, Beall 126.1, Corcoran 124.8.

If we take the average of the smaller five (trees #6 through # 10), we see
that "deep depth" factor again. Sevier 142.1, Congaree 131.3, Tamassee
125.9, Kelly 124.1, Chase 121.4, Mohawk 119.7, Long Cane 118.7, Cook 118.2,
Belt 116.2, LPinnacle 115.8, Corcoran 114.7, IceGlen 114.2, Beall 113.8,
Cohutta 109.8, GreenL 109.5, Monroe 105.4.

In the above list, Mohawk & Chase improved their rankings, as did Long Cane,
LPinnacle, IceGlen and Corcoran, suggesting considerable diversity in the
upper canopy. Although we are aware that the loss of a single outstanding
tree could change the numbers, that single tree does represent, as best as
we can determine, the potential of that species at this time, so it's
reasonable. If the lost tree is the last of its kind, it suggests that the
forest structure has changed, and there's no longer a niche for that

Of course, numbers aren't the whole story, but it's interesting. The GSMNP
averages go down as we split up the immense acreage. Big is better because
there are more trees, more diversity, and more variety of habitat. This
goes back to the problem at Belt; 43 acres makes a great grove, but there's
little diversity of habitat. Chase Creek is bigger, and has a great deal of
diversity. Some of its trees are older, but most are younger than Belt.
The Collington soils are the same. In a section of national forest with
thousands of acres, both sites might be in the same study area.

Such hypothetical combining gives us a "dream team," with five species from
each area, as it turns out. The average would be 136.81, which is just
behind Congaree. Yes, that's a bit unfair, and a plug for Maryland trees,
but what it really means is that the numbers for GSMNP and Congaree are
somewhat misleading. We can see that temperature, rainfall, and old growth
aren't the whole story. If we split those areas up until the acreage and
the diversity of habitat were not greater than MTSF or CCW, the rankings
wouldn't change, but the numbers would be much closer.

Enough! I've gone on too long. Maybe you can make something out of it.

Also, what's the acreage at Ice Glen?