Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2011, Article ID 461310, 12 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2011/461310
Research Article

Determination of Alterations in Forest Condition Using Various Measures of Land Use Change along an Urban-Rural Gradient in the West Georgia Piedmont, USA

1School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5418, USA
2School of Forest Resources, University of Washington, Box 352100, Seattle, WA 98195-2100, USA

Received 3 February 2011; Accepted 14 March 2011

Academic Editor: G. Moreno

Copyright © 2011 Diane M. Styers et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Our overall goal was to examine forest condition across different land use types through measurement of various biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic variables. Thirty-six permanent 0.05-ha circular plots were established along an urban-rural gradient near Columbus, Ga, USA. In general, forest structure did not differ by land use type for the majority of variables measured. However, urban forests contained less total tree and hardwood species than developing or rural areas. Regarding forest condition, no differences were observed for pest or disease incidence by land use, but more mechanical injury (broken branches, wounds, etc.) was found in urban locales. Lichens were the most sensitive indicator of possible changes in forest condition. Lichen incidence, abundance, and species richness were the greatest in rural forests and the least in urban locations. These factors were related to several indicators of urbanization such as housing density and distance from roads. In this case study subtle, but significant changes in forest structure and condition may have resulted from alterations in land use patterns.