The vascular flora of an old-growth mixed mesophytic forest in southeastern Kentucky

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Because the goal of natural areas management is often the preservation of biodiversity, documenting botanical species richness is critically important. We con ducted a series of botanical surveys in Big Everidge Hollow, a 52 ha watershed containing old-growth forest, on the Cumberland Plateau of eastern Kentucky. We contrasted our findings with a floristic survey that included parts of our study area, conducted approximately 20 years prior. Our research, from 1999 through 2001, yielded 263 species from 176 genera and 82 families, including 19 species that were new records from the site. These new species may have been overlooked in the previous study because of their scarcity or highly cryptic taxonomy, or they may have established in the years between studies. Of the 263 species recorded in our surveys, only one is considered non-native. This remarkable absence of exotic species indicates the high levels of "ecological integrity" inherent the study site and suggests an increasingly vital role for old-growth forests as reference ecosystems.


"The authors thank Rob Watt, the grounds super visor of the Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Research Station, for his hospitality and gracious assistance during the field surveys. Thanks also to Bill Martin and Eastern Kentucky University for access to the study site. We also thank Amy L. Goff-Yates, John Graham, Kevin Lewis, Jeff Lombardo, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of the manuscript. Finally, many thanks are owed to C. John Burk who carefully read and edited the original and revised manuscript, greatly improving its readability." (p. 618)