The open canopy xeric forests of Cherrywood, Ganier, and Harris Ridges in Radnor Lake State Natural Area, Nashville, Tennessee, were sampled to determine species diversity and stems/ha of trees, saplings, and seedlings. Chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) was dominant in each forest, but tree, sapling, and seedling stems/ha means were significantly larger in Ganier than Cherrywood and Harris. Ganier has had heavy trail use but no hunting since 1973. Of the 12 tree species present on Ganier, only two species exceeded 5% of the total tree stems/ha. Harris had hunting but no hiking trail until 2013, and six of the 21 tree species exceeded 5% of the total tree stems/ha. At Harris, shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), and September elm (Ulmus serotina) had significantly more tree and seedling stems/ha than Cherrywood and Ganier. The larger populations of trees and seedlings are associated with reduced herbivory and seed consumption, which are an indirect result of hunting. For Cherrywood, five of the 19 tree species exceeded 5% of the total tree stems/ha. The intermediate position of Cherrywood, between Ganier and Harris, in relation to species diversity and the number of species that exceeded 5% of the total tree stems/ha, may be explained by no hiking and no hunting since 1973. In urban natural area ridge forests, trampling by hikers appears to be the origin of decreased species diversity and a dominant tree species population increase. Conversely, hunting is associated with greater species diversity and larger populations of subdominant species.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Nature and Landscape Conservation