Predicting oak density with ecological, physical, and soil indicatorsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
We predicted density of oak species in the mid-Cumberland Plateau region of northeastern Alabama on the basis of basal area of tree associations based on light tolerances, physical site characteristics, and soil type. Tree basal area was determined for four species groups: oaks (Quercus spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera L.), and other species. Basal area of all species was also divided into three categories based on shade tolerance (shade tolerant, intermediate tolerance, and shade intolerant). Principal components analysis was used to explore the communalities among the measured site characteristics and the species and shade tolerance groups. Stepwise multiple linear regression modeled the extent to which the forest composition factors and physical and soil indicators predicted the density of oaks. Oak basal area responded negatively to basal area of all shade tolerance groups and the species groups that correlated with them. Elevation was related positively to oak density. Our results support the premise that oaks are weak competitors with species of various shade tolerance strategies.