Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Pennsylvania
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Pennsylvania Project

Changes in forest composition through time due to charcoal production for the iron industry, tree harvest, and deer browse

October 2019 - September 2021


Participating Agencies

  • McIntire-Stennis

Historic charcoal production is an example of abrupt change across northern Appalachian forest ecosystems that we hypothesize has had a lasting effect on forests; forest managers can be better prepared to adapt to future abrupt change by studying this model system of past abrupt change.

Abrupt changes in a forest ecosystem, whether natural or anthropogenic, are changes that occur over short time periods; such disturbance has the potential to drive state changes and alter forest resilience. Understanding how present-day abrupt forest change may alter ecosystem services is becoming more important due to ever-growing anthropogenic stresses.

This project is a collaboration of researchers at Penn State University with expertise in soils, forests, and white-tailed deer.

Forest managers trying the adapt to anthropogenic stress can benefit from the study and quantification of past abrupt changes in forests, especially when the legacy of past disturbance is still evident.