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SBE Seminar Series Spring 2023: Charlie Cogbill

April 7, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Dr. Charles Cogbill, Harvard Forest

The forests of Maine before Euro-American settlement

This presentation develops a reconstruction of the vegetation of Maine before major changes wrought by Euro-American activities. After reviewing lines of evidence from biogeographical zones, modern analog vegetation, and “old growth” remnants, empirical historical data are compiled. This picture is based on an extensive town-wide compilation of witness trees cited in land surveys from 1662 to 1850. Although there have been drastic changes in species abundances, forest disturbance, and climate, the presettlement character and species distributions resemble those of today. Significantly the tension zone between the southern sprout hardwoods (typified by oak) and the northern hardwoods (typified by beech) has barely moved despite drastic changes on either side of the ecotone. This presettlement database is the ideal foundation for determining past species distributions, human effects on the landscape, a baseline for forest management, or for parameterizing models of vegetation change.

Dr. Charles Cogbill is a historical ecologist based in Plainfield, Vermont and an Associate of Harvard Forest. Since the 1970s, he has studied the effect of acid rain on red spruce, in particular working with the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem Study and the Spruce Response Program on Mount Moosilauke. He has active research interests in old-growth forests and their ecology, dynamics of montane forests of the Appalachians, and the alpine vegetation of eastern North America. Most recently he has been involved in archival research reconstructing the composition, structure, and dynamics of presettlement forests of northeastern North America. Together with the PalEON project he has developed a map of the forests of the United States before Euro-American settlement.

hosted by Jacquelyn Gill and the BEAST Lab


April 7, 2023
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Categories:


Norman Smith Hall, Room 5710
ME United States


School of Biology and Ecology