Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

John Kupfer


As expansion continues to push the wildland-urban interface farther into the suburbs and the landscape which surrounds cities, it will become more important to understand the factors that influence species composition in remaining green spaces. Harbison State Forest, an ~890-hectare urban forest provides a convenient setting to analyze species composition patterns within a multipurpose urban green space.

The factors that can create these patterns include environmental (topography, soil nutrient content, light, temperature, and precipitation), naturally occurring disturbances that alter these factors (e.g., fire, windthrow), and anthropogenic disturbances such as logging and prescribed burning.

I measured basal area by species on 74 randomly distributed plots. These data were complemented by measures of logging history and burn history along with environmental measures of slope angle, elevation, and slope orientation taken in situ. Soil samples were taken at each plot and analyzed by an outside lab for chemical make-up and nutrient content. I then used NMS, MRPP, and ISA to analyze the distribution of species.

NMS created gradients of soil structure differences between floodplain and upland soils while MRPP found significant (p <0.05) differences between plots with differing histories. Soil proved to be the main determining factor in relation to woody species composition. Forest succession in Harbison is mostly influenced by environmental factors and represents a natural ecosystem existing in a suburban landscape.


© 2022, Derek Matchette

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