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KUCHLER TYPE: Oak-hickory forest
KUCHLER-TYPE-NUMBER : K100 PHYSIOGNOMY : Medium tall to tall broadleaf forests [51]. Also, open woodlands with prairie forbs and shrubs in the understory. Typical deciduous trees on mesic, fairly rich soils are a maximum of 83 to 100 feet (25-30 m) tall with a nearly closed canopy. Trunk diameters may range up to 5 feet (1.5 m). There is usually a well developed shrub-sapling layer, but the herb and moss layer is variable, and is usually less than 100 percent cover [44]. Most deciduous forests have five well-developed vertical strata: the uppermost dense canopy, an open subcanopy of immature trees and mature small trees (such as flowering dogwood [Cornus florida] and eastern redbud [Cercis canadensis]), a shrub layer, an herb layer, and a surface layer of mosses and lichens [97]. This write-up includes some information on transitional vegetation (savanna) occurring at the interface between oak (Quercus spp.)-hickory (Carya spp.) forest and tallgrass prairie. United States Public Land Survey notes (1835) described these areas as "barrens." There is very little agreement, however, on what constitutes a barren and the term should be avoided [69]. Much debate continues over the degree to which oak savanna is "natural" [60,72]; however, most agree that it is a fire-dependent type (a fire disclimax that is stable over time given periodic fire). Clark [20] has suggested that closed oak-hickory forest is an artifact of fire suppression. Prairie and woodland burning by Native Americans had a great deal of influence on the extent and character of vegetation in the prairie-forest contact region, and in the eastern deciduous forest. The degree to which this activity altered the natural fire regime is largely unresolved [2,15]. OCCURRENCE : Oak-hickory forests occur in the central United States, ranging from central Iowa east to southern Michigan and south to Texas. These forests are extensive in some states, and have only local occurrences in others. In the Southeast, oak-hickory forests are a major type in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Tennessee and extend into Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana [15]. In the Southeast, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, there were approximately 1 million square miles (26 million sq km) of unbroken forest. By 1865, 65 percent of the surface area was forested; by 1923, less than 260,000 square miles (676,000 sq km) were left in second-growth merchantable timber [15]. The U.S. Forest Service indicated that there were 36.3 million acres (14.5 million ha) of oak-hickory forest in the north-central states in 1972 (this included Kuchler types 81, 82, 84, 89, 100, and 104) [64]. Oak savannas were an important feature of the midwestern landscape prior to European settlement. Nuzzo [69] estimated that at the time of settlement oak savanna covered some 28.6 to 33.8 million acres (11-13 million ha) of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. This estimate includes savannas occurring in Kuchler's oak-savanna (K081), oak-hickory forest (K100), and within the area mapped as bluestem (Andropogon and Schizachyrium spp.) prairie-oak-hickory mosaic (K082). There is some evidence that savannas existed in eastern Nebraska prior to settlement, some in areas previously thought to be exclusively tallgrass prairie [79]. Betz [8] estimated that presettlement savanna and associated sand prairie in Indiana covered 1.68 million acres (647,000 ha). Today only remnants of these types exist, most of which have been degraded due to various disturbances such as grazing and altered fire regime [7]. In 1985, 113 sites totaling 6,439 acres (2,607 ha) of relatively high-quality oak savanna remained, approximately 0.02 percent of the original extent. All but 100 acres (40 ha) were on sandy, rocky, or similarly droughty substrates [69]. STATES: AL, AR, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MS, MO, NE, OH, OK, TN, TX COMPILED BY AND DATE : Janet Sullivan, 1995 LAST REVISED BY AND DATE : NO-ENTRY AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Sullivan, Janet. 1995. Oak-hickory forest. In: Remainder of Citation
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Information Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Fire Effects Information System

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