Terrestrial System. Forested Uplands Subsystem-- Hemlock-northern hardwood forest community

Hemlock-northern hardwood forest community, photo by Michael H. Nee

Physical Setting: This community occurs on the two hills east of the Ice Pond. The forest on the northern hill is found on the south and west slopes from the edge of the railroad nearly to the summit (135–220). It covers approximately 100,000 square meters (about 25 acres), centered at 41.454ºN, 73.609ºW and 180 meters above sea level. On the southern hill the forest covers all but the summit and a portion of the west face, occupying approximately 200,000 square meters (about 49 acres) and centered at 41.447ºN, 73.611ºW and 190 meters above sea level.

Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora), photo by Gregory A. Russo

Substrate and Hydrology: Both sites occur on hillsides with thin, rocky mineral soil. Numerous seeps provide year-round moisture, but the soil dries out quickly.

Biota: The canopy is dominated by eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) with red oak (Quercus rubra), beech (Fagus grandifolia), yellow birch (Betua alleghaniensis) and black oak (Quercus velutina) as co-dominants. The dense canopy above makes the forest quite dark and the thick layer  of oak leaves and hemlock needles on the ground decompose slowly, creating a very dry and sterile surface substrate. Consequently, the shrub and herb layers are sparse or absent entirely. The hemlocks here are infested with the wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), but the older trees are still vigorous and regeneration is good.

Cultural: The stone walls in the area go around (but not through) what is now hemlock forests, suggesting that these areas may have been hemlock forest for a long time and perhaps were not cultivated, although they were undoubtedly logged.

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