The Appalachian Mountains present from North America and spread towards Canadian Province of Quebec towards Central Alabama. These mountains gains their importance as these are considered to be the oldest mountains on the earth in the present United States. The Appalachian Mountains have a number of ranges the following are the major ranges:
· White Mountains
· Green Mountains
· Great Smoky mountains
· Cumberland Plateau
· Black mountains
Mineral resources of Appalachian Mountains
It is found that the Appalachian Mountains contain major deposits of anthracite coal as well as bituminous coal (Lesile,2010).
Paul C Lyons , 1998 stated that the Appalachian basin is the world's second largest coal bed-methane (CBM) producing basin. It has been found that nearly 4000 wells with 1996 annual production at 147.8 billion cubic feet (Bcf). Cumulative CBM production is close to 0.9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) ( Lyons,1998).
Ecology of Appalachian forest
The flora and fauna of this differ widely due to geology, latitude, air pressure, and elevation from ground level.
The primary plant species of this region are “Deciduous broad leaf trees and evergreen needles shaped leaf conifers” known commonly as American Holly and scientifically known as (Ilex opaca),
Two species of fir are also present in the Appalachian Forest “the boreal Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)”, and the southern high elevation endemic, “Fraser Fir (Abies fraseri)”. Fraser Fir is just present on the highest parts of the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Deciduous needle leaf conifers
The Deciduous needle leaf conifers known as Tamarack or Eastern Larch (Larix laricina) are also present in some areas.
Northern and high elevation conifer:
Red Spruce (Picea rubens) are the dominant northern and high elevation conifer trees. These trees can grow to the height of above 4,000 feet from sea level. These conifers are present in New England and southeastern Canada also present in the crest of Appalachian crest. In the southern Appalachians, as in North Carolina and Tennessee they reach the highest elevation, whereas in Central Appalachian the height is confined to about 3,000 feet due to cold weather.
Black Spruce (Picea Mariana) is present at high elevations of northern Appalachian, and also in southern Pennsylvania.
Mesic Appalachian Oak Hickory Forests
This forest has a broad diversity among the tree species. It includes Appalachian oaks (white, black, and scarlet), hickories (Carya spp.), white ash (Fraxinus americana), white pine (Pinus strobus), hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), birch (Betula spp.), maple (Acer spp.), and beech (Fagus grandifolia). Most of Oaks in this region is located the northern edge of the ranges. The layers of shrubs and herbs located there are developed moderately. It mostly includes wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens).
The Fraser Fir in combination with Red spruce forms a fragile ecosystem at the highest part of the Southern Appalachian Mountains so known as Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest (Houk, 1993).
Other Pines Species:
The oak forest
The oak forest consists of ericaceous shrubs, like evergreen Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), various species of blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), a number of deciduous rhododendrons (azaleas), and smaller heaths such as Teaberry ( Gaultheria procumbens) and Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens ). In oak forest small trees and shrub herb layer of forests are not present.
Oak hickory forest
The oak hickory forest is generally present from southern New England and New York, to Northern Georgia. The current range of oak hickory forest includes former oak chestnut forests.
Oak-Chestnut type forests
These types of forest are dominated by a variety of oaks (Quercus spp.), hickories (Carya spp.) and, in the past, by the American chestnut (Castanea dentata). These types of forests are present in the dryer and rocky lands.
R.G. Kuperman, (1996) estimated the relationship between the soil properties and community structure of soil macro invertebrates in oak-hickory forests along an acidic deposition gradient. The objective of the study was to find out the changing in the community structure of soil microorganisms in the acid deposited soils. Three study areas were compared and the results showed that soil microorganisms have a close correlation to soil chemistry. The most affected group of organisms was earthworms, gastropods, dipteran larvae, termites and predatory beetles. It was concluded that the acid deposition for a long period of time affects the soil decomposes community and results in lower organic matter turnover rates which leads towards an increase in soil organic matter.
Destruction of Chest-nut forest
Chestnut forest destruction in Appalachian Forest was caused by Cryphonectria parasitica, and first discovered in New York City in 1904. It is a bark blight. It originated in Japan and spread in the chestnut of Appalachian Forest. By the end of 1930’s the spores of this fungus spread north and west Carolina affects the chestnut oat.
Efforts to restore Chestnut blight:
A number of efforts were carried out to overcome the Chestnut blight during 1912-1960. Frank Meyer, found that this disease came from the Orient (Cunningham, 1984). The Chinese and Japanese chest nets were found to have harmful fungus that had no adverse effect on them. Walter Van Fleet of New York initiated some breeding programs. But no success was found so by the end of 1960, most of the states and Federal breeding programs were abandoned (Burnham et al., 1986).
Appalachian cove forests
According to Nature Serve Explorer the concave slopes and the moist environment give rise to the Appalachian Forest in the range. The trees present in these type of forests includes yellow buckeye (Aesculus flava), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), white ash (Fraxinus americana), basswood (Tilia americana), tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), beech (Fagus grandifolia), cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata), and Fraser magnolia (Magnolia fraseri) (Southern and Central Appalachian cove forests ,2012).
Like other forests the Appalachian forest flora also includes bryophytes like mosses and liverworts and fungi.
Destruction of Appalachian forests
During the 19th and early 20th centuries the Appalachian forests were subject to severe and destructive logging and land clearing, which resulted in the designation of the National Forests and Parks as well many state protected areas. However, these and a variety of other destructive activities continue, albeit in diminished forms; and thus far only a few ecologically based management practices have taken hold (Skelly,1998).
Many known and very-well-understood forest species declines are likewise present within the Appalachian forests; a few examples would include oak decline, sugar maple decline, ash dieback, hickory decline, and attacks of conifers by various bark beetles
Application of Spruce-Fir Gap Fill Model in Great Smoky Forest
R.T. Busing, E.E.C. Clebsch (1987) applied a spruce-fir gap fill model developed from the FOREST MODEL in of Shugart and West developed in 1977 to simulate stand dynamics of an old-growth spruce -fir forest in the Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee. In the FOREST model the recruitment, growth and mortality of single trees on gap size are calculated and tabulated every year. The function of this model was to study the long term forest dynamics both with and without exogenous disturbances.
The validity of “Spruce-fir Model” was checked by comparing the simulated and actual forest responses to the disturbances involving canopy tree mortality. The objective of applying model to the forest was to predict the future outcomes, the composition, structure, and other dynamics under multiple potential disturbances like air pollution, aphid induced fir mortality. The results showed that in the absence of any exogenous disturbance the spruce and fir density can survive for a long period of time. In case of undisturbed fir population with slightly sever spruce growth decline resulted in “Fir-birch” forest. When the fir population was in decline the effects of spruce growth vanished. The Deterioration of both the spruce and fir populations resulted in a hardwood dominated forest with low stand biomass.
Great Smoky forest
According to National Park services, 2012 The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. The range is sometimes called the Smoky Mountains and the name is commonly shortened to the Smokies. The Great Smokies are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 9 million visits per year, it is the most-visited national park in the United States (National Park Service, 2012).
Comparison of breeding bird and vegetation communities in primary and secondary forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A study conducted by Theodore et al., in 2006 showed that breeding bird communities and vegetation characteristics of paired point locations in primary (undisturbed) and mature secondary forest (70–100 years old) sites in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. The object of this study was to find out how sites logged prior to the creation of the park compared to undisturbed sites following 70 years of protection from human disturbance. The results showed that bird and vegetation communities are currently similar, but retain some differences in species composition. The comparisons of density estimates derived from distance sampling showed that three bird species were more abundant on secondary forest type. Results indicate that breeding bird communities on sites 70 years ago exceeds than those in fragmented landscapes.
The Appalachian forests are one of the highest peaks in the world and famous for its beautiful scenic and recreational points. These forests are good sources of flora and fauna. Appalachian forests have unique importance due to its canopy. But unfortunately the natural ecosystem is being interrupted by humans. The thinning of forests and extraction and mining activities placed an adverse effect on flora and fauna. The cutting of canopy disturbs the microclimate. The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most important ranges in Appalachian forest. These mountains are important due to its high Mountain Peaks and beautiful climatic conditions. To save the flora and fauna of Appalachian it is necessary to prevent human interruption.
Burnham, C.R.,Rutter, P.A. & French,D.W. (1986). Breeding blight-resistant chestnuts. Plant Breeding Reviews 4:347-397.
Busing,R.T.& Clebsch,E.E. (1987). Application of a spruce-fir gap fill forest canopy gap model”, Elsevier Forest Ecology and Management, Volume 20, Issues 1–2, July. Pages 151–169.
Cunningham,I.S. & Meyer,F.N.(1984). Plant Hunter in Asia. Ames, Iowa: The Iowa State University Press.
Houk,R.(1993). Great Smoky Mountains National Park: A Natural History Guide. pp. 50-62. Kuperman,R.G.(1996). Relationships between soil properties and community structure of soil macroinvertebrates in oak-hickory forests along an acidic deposition gradient, Applied Soil Ecology, Volume 4, Issue 2, September 1996, Pages 125–137.
Lesile, R. F.(2010). Executive summary Coal Resource Assessment of Selected Coal Beds and Zones in Northern and central Appalachian Basin Coal Regions. USGS.