, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 397-408

Landscape changes in Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) wetlands of the New Jersey Pinelands

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Abstract

Assessing the long-term sustainability of Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) wetlands in the New Jersey Pinelands is an important management concern. We used aerial photography dating from 1930 through 1991 and recent satellite imagery to quantify successional trends in these wetlands within the 1,473 km2 Mullica River basin. Over the 61-yr period the composition of individual cedar patches in the study area changed in response to varying disturbance regimes but total cedar cover remained relatively stable. The dominant transitions were conversion of cedar to shrub cover and succession from shrub to cedar. Cedar harvesting, which was the dominant disturbance, was most intense during the early part of the study period. A decline in successful regeneration of more recent cedar cuts maybe related to an increase in the Pinelands deer herd. Other major disturbances included wildfires and flooding. Most flooding was associated with beaver activity. Although the long-term effects of changing disturbance regimes are unknown, our results suggest a positive outlook for sustainability of Atlantic white cedar wetlands within the Mullica River basin. Important management considerations that can affect cedar sustainability include effective post-harvest management of cut swamps and restoration of cedar in shrub or emergent dominated areas that historically contained cedar. Because hardwood conversion of undisturbed cedar patches was not a major transition, cedar harvesting to rejuvenate stands does not seem necessary to maintain Atlantic white cedar wetlands.

This revised version was published online in July 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.