Terrestrial System. Forested Uplands Subsystem-- Chestnut oak forest community

Chestnut oak, Quercus prinus

Physical Setting: Chestnut oak forest is found on the upper slopes of Ice Pond's three principal hills. On the summits of the two highest, the forest grades into a dwarfed variant.

The best example of this community at Ice Pond occurs in a crescent about 150 meters wide just below the summit of the highest hill (excluding its eastern side), covering approximately 40,000 square meters and centered at approximately 41.450ºN, 73.618ºW and about 210–250 meters above sea level.

The northeastern hill also has well-developed Chestnut oak forest that forms a crescent around its summit. Here the forest covers approximately 40,000 square meters centered at approximately 41.455ºN, 73.607ºW and 200–240 meters above sea level.

The upper slopes and summit of the southeastern hill is dominated by chestnut oak, but here the forest is not as well-defined. It occurs in an oblique circle centered at approximately 41.448ºN and 73.611ºW and 170–190 meters above sea level and covers approximately 31,000 square meters.

Substrate and Hydrology: Chestnut oak forests in general occur on moderate slopes on more basic, drier soils. At Ice Pond, the forest occurs on thin soil with large rock outcrops. The somewhat sparse canopy allows the ground to dry quickly.

Biota: The dominant tree species of the Chestnut oak forest community is Quercus prinus L. Lesser dominants include Quercus velutina Lam., Quercus rubra L., Betula lenta L., Prunus serotina Ehrh., Carya andSassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees. The shrub layer is dominated by Hamamelis virginiana L., Kalmia latifolia L.,Vaccinium pallidum Aiton and Gaylussacia bacata (Wagenh.) K. Koch. The herb layer is relatively depauperate and is dominated by either Carex pensylvanica Lam. or the moss, Leucobryum albidum (Brid. ex P. Beauv.) Lindb. The very distinctive lichens, Lasallia papulosa (Ach.) Llano and Umbilicaria mammulata (Ach.) Tuck., (both pictured below right) are abundant on large boulders on the western slope of the highest hill.

Lichenologist Richard Harris with Lasallia papulosa and Umbilicaria mammulata

Cultural: These forests occur on relatively steep, rocky slopes with poor soil. There are few stone walls in this community, suggesting that these slopes may have only been marginally cultivated.

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