Stand dynamics of a yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) forest in the Appalachian Mountains, Virginia, USA Conference Paper uri icon


  • Yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.) is a large, rapidly growing, shade-intolerant tree species common after disturbances on moist sites in the Appalachian Mountains. The species is typically scattered throughout old-growth mesophytic forests, where periodic gap formation creates conditions favorable for yellow-poplar establishment and growth. On abandoned agricultural fields, however, it is common for nearly monospecific forests of yellow-poplar to develop. This study examines stand dynamics of a yellow-poplar forest in western Virginia, USA that was established on agricultural fields abandoned in the late 1940s. Increment cores were collected from yellow-poplar trees growing on exposed ridgetops and in a more sheltered hollow. Tree-ring data show that the forest is even-aged. Tree establishment began about 5 years earlier on the ridgetops than in the hollow. Major ice storms disturbed the forest in 1978 and 1994, with two separate events in 1994. Ice storms disturb forests by depositing heavy loads of freezing rain on trees, breaking or uprooting them. The dendroecological data collected for this study provide little support for the hypothesis that ice storm disturbance promotes the establishment of new yellow-poplar cohorts. However, the data show that radial growth of some trees increased after ice storm disturbance, a pattern that reflects the increased availability of light following disturbance. Radial growth declined in some other trees as a consequence of severe injury during the storms. Radial growth responses following the 1978 ice storm were stronger on the ridgetops than in the hollow, suggesting that tree damage was more severe on the higher, more exposed sites. Growth responses were relatively mild following the storms of 1994, and did not exhibit pronounced topographic variations. 2004 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

published proceedings

  • Dendrochronologia

author list (cited authors)

  • Lafon, C. W.

citation count

  • 20

complete list of authors

  • Lafon, Charles W

publication date

  • January 2004