Coarse woody debris in an old-growth deciduous forest on the Cumberland Plateau, southeastern Kentucky

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Volume and mass of coarse woody debris (> 20 cm diameter) in an old-growth forest on the Cumberland Plateau in southeastern Kentucky averaged 66.3 m3/ha and 21.8 Mg/ha, respectively. Coarse woody debris was patchily distributed among 80 sample plots (0.04 ha each), with 10 plots containing 39% of the total mass. Coarse woody debris mass was inversely, although not strongly, related to plot basal area. While 23 species contributed to the accumulation of coarse woody debris, five accounted for 72% of the total mass. These included Quercusprinus L. (25% of the total), Fagusgrandifolia L. (16%), Quercusalba L (12%), Castaneadentata (Marsh.) Borkh. (11%), and Quercusvelutina Lam. (9%). The few studies of coarse woody debris in old-growth deciduous forests of North America suggest a regional pattern of accumulation correlated with temperature. In warmer regions, old-growth deciduous forests accumulate a mass in the range of 22–32 Mg/ha, while in cooler ecosystems, coarse woody debris ranges from 34 to 49 Mg/ha.