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Harvard Forest Data Archive


Holocene Development of a Forested Wetland in Central Massachusetts from 12500 BP to Present

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  • Lead: Tad Zebryk, David Foster
  • Investigators:
  • Contact: Information Manager
  • Start date: -10500
  • End date: 2000
  • Status: complete
  • Location: Prospect Hill Tract (Harvard Forest)
  • Latitude: +42.539330 degrees
  • Longitude: -72.179720 degrees
  • Elevation: 355 meter
  • Datum: WGS84
  • Taxa: Acer rubrum (red maple), Acer saccharum (sugar maple), Betula (birch), Castanea (chestnut), Fraxinus (ash), Nyssa (black gum), Picea (spruce), Pinus (pine), Populus (aspen), Quercus (oak), Tsuga canadensis (hemlock)
  • Release date: 2023
  • Language: English
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.100.17
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • EDI: data package
  • DataONE: data package
  • Related links:
  • Study type: paleological
  • Research topic: historical and retrospective studies; physiological ecology, population dynamics and species interactions
  • LTER core area: disturbance patterns, human-environment interactions
  • Keywords: fires, paleoecology, pollen, vegetation dynamics, wetlands
  • Abstract:

    The post-glacial history of two adjacent sites in the Harvard Forest, a 10-ha swamp (Black Gum Swamp) and a 0.006-ha hollow (Hemlock Hollow) in a Tsuga canadensis forest were investigated using pollen analysis. The sites were selected in order to contrast the regional vegetation history revealed from the swamp sediments with the local history of the Tsuga forest reconstructed from the Hollow sediments. Specific objectives were (1) to document the natural and anthropogenic disturbance history, (2) to examine the long-term vegetation dynamics of the two sites resulting from environmental change, species migration, and disturbance, especially with respect to Tsuga, and (3) to contrast the pre-and post-settlement vegetation and environments. The Swamp and Hollow cores contain continuous sediment records covering the past 12,300 and 9500 yr, respectively. Regional vegetation changes are delimited in six pollen zones: I, Herb zone, (12500 – 11800 yr BP); II, Picea zone (11800 –9350 yr BP) III, Pinus-Quercus zone (9350-8350 yr BP); IV, Tsuga-northern hardwoods zone (8350-1750 yr BP); V, Tsuga-Castanea-hardwoods zone (1750-200 yr BP); and VI, Post-settlement zone (200 yr BP-present). No disturbances are detected in the periods of tundra or boreal vegetation from 12500 to 8350 yr BP. Since 8350 yr BP three distinct disturbance processes are detectable: (1) fires recorded in discrete charcoal horizons, (2) the apparent pathogenic decline of Tsuga (4700-3500 yr BP) and the blight of Castanea (~1915 A.D.), and (3) post-settlement forest cutting, burning, land clearance an cultivation (1750 A.D. to present).

  • Methods:

    Morphometric maps of the sites were constructed by probing with thin steel rods across a 25-m grid at Black Gum Swamp (BGS) and 1-m grid at Hemlock Hollow (HH). A total of 500 cm of sediment core length was obtained with a 5 cm diameter Russian corer from the deepest part of the BGS basin, and 72 cm of sediment was recovered at HH with a piston corer.

    Cores were sub-sampled volumetrically for pollen and charcoal analysis at measured stratigraphic intervals, spiked with eucalyptus-glycerin solution and processed using the method of Faegri and Iverson (1975). A minimum of 300 arboreal grains was identified at each level. Charcoal (greater than 15 μm longest dimension) was tallied for the entire core at BGS and the last 3000 yr at HH using the point-intercept method (Clark 1982). Organic carbon content was determined by loss-on-ignition at 550° C at 10-cm intervals at BGS and 1-cm intervals at HH (Dean 1974). The chronostratigraphy at HH is based on an accelerator 14C date of the basal sediments and pollen-stratigraphic correlation with the dated BGS core.

    Pollen data from each site were ordinated separately using detrended correspondence analysis (DECORANA; Hill and Gauch 1980) to analyze relationships among species and samples.

  • Organization: Harvard Forest. 324 North Main Street, Petersham, MA 01366, USA. Phone (978) 724-3302. Fax (978) 724-3595.

  • Project: The Harvard Forest Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) program examines ecological dynamics in the New England region resulting from natural disturbances, environmental change, and human impacts. (ROR).

  • Funding: National Science Foundation LTER grants: DEB-8811764, DEB-9411975, DEB-0080592, DEB-0620443, DEB-1237491, DEB-1832210.

  • Use: This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (No Rights Reserved). Please keep the dataset creators informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset should include proper acknowledgement.

  • License: Creative Commons Zero v1.0 Universal (CC0-1.0)

  • Citation: Zebryk T, Foster D. 2023. Holocene Development of a Forested Wetland in Central Massachusetts from 12500 BP to Present. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF100 (v.17). Environmental Data Initiative:

Detailed Metadata

hf100-01: age model

  1. site: site name
    • BGS: Black Gum Swamp
    • HH: Hemlock Hollow
  2. depth: depth in the sediment column (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  3. thickness: thickness of the measured sample (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  4. age: age before present (years) (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf100-02: pollen

  1. site: site name
    • BGS: Black Gum Swamp
    • HH: Hemlock Hollow
  2. taxa: pollen taxa
  3. depth: depth in the sediment column (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  4. count: number of pollen grains (unit: number / missing value: NA)