Patterns of Oak Dominance in the Eastern Ouachita Mountains Suggested by Early RecordsThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Many years of human influence across the Interior Highlands have caused profound changes in forest composition, disturbance regimes, and understory dynamics. However, information on the historical condition of these forests is limited. General Land Office (GLO) records, old documents, and contemporary studies provided data on the township encompassing the Lake Winona Research Natural Area (LWRNA). The study area was first surveyed between 1821 and 1838, and few settlers had settled this mountainous region by the 1930s. A 1987 ecological assessment of the LWRNA, coupled with other reports, supplemented the GLO descriptions. The original surveys tallied at least 15 species of witness trees, primarily white oak (Quercus alba L.), black oak (Q. velutina Lam.), shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.), blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica Marsh.), and post oak (Q. stellata Wang.). A 1931 resurvey identified at least 14 taxa, but by then the witness trees had become overwhelmingly shortleaf pine, with much less oak. Forest composition in the LWRNA is shifting once again toward oak dominance, with a prominent pine supercanopy.