When the present Tionesta tract was acquired in 1936, old-growth hemlock stands predominated. Hardwoods, principally sugar maple and beech, were dominant on the remain- ing area. Most of the hardwood stands-particularly in the Scenic Area-were younger, contained much smaller trees, and generally occurred on the old windthrow areas (fig. 8). The forest type acreages shown in table 1 are the best estimates available.
Estimates of the forest types in the Scenic Area are based on 1936 cruise
data. At that time, black cherry types were not recognized, but it is
likely that such types were present then as they are now. Forest
type acreages in the Research Natural Area are based on a survey of the hardwood
forest types completed in 1975. Figure 9 shows the approximate boundaries
of the hemlock stands and the hardwood stands as sketched from old maps, aerial
photographs, and the Natural Area survey.
Surveys were made in 1930 and 1933 of the plant and animal life in a 14,000-acre tract of climax forest extending from the valley of the East Branch of Tionesta Creek south to and including the present Tionesta Scenic and Research Natural Areas. Some small areas of second-growth forest along the edges of the climax forest were also included. All the climax forests outside the Tionesta Areas have since been cut.
At the time of these surveys, hemlock and beech ranked first and second in frequency in the dominant tree cover-trees at least 70 feet tall-on the plateau and slopes. Hemlock was the most common species along Cherry Run and both branches of Fork Run. Other tree species varied according to topographic position (table 2). Species such as oak, white pine, and chestnut were of minor importance and, when present, were most likely to be found on the warmer and drier south-facing slopes. This topographic distribution is about the same today.
It is not known how many of the plants and animals listed here can be found in the remaining climax forest; but some, such as black maple and ostrich fern, are characteristic of larger valley bottoms and must have occurred only along the East Branch. Neither white pine nor red oak have ever been reported in the Tionesta Areas.
Figure 8.-Second-growth stands of sugar maple, red maple, and beech have developed in old windthrow areas. If left undisturbed for many years such stands may revert to a hemlock-beech climax forest.
Species observed in second-growth stands are included here because such
stands existed in the Tionesta tract in 1933 and there may be some overlapping
of species between the climax and second-growth forests. Species reported
in second-growth stands are marked in the following lists of flora and fauna.
In the surveys, 32 tree species were recorded (table 3). A tree is defined as a woody plant having one erect perennial stem or trunk at least 3 inches in diameter at breast height (4.5 feet), a more or less definitely formed crown of foliage, and a height of at least 12 feet.
Figure 9.- The shaded areas show the locations of the hardwood stands.
The remaining area is in the hemlock-beech forest type.
The principal species found were hemlock and beech.
The average basal area per acre was about 140 square feet. The basal area
of a tree is the area of a cross-section of a stem generally measured at breast
height, and includes bark. Basal area per acre is the sum of basal areas
of all the trees on the acre.
Hemlock was the dominant species in the 10-inch and larger diameter classes; beech dominated in the 4- to 9-inch classes (table 4). Sugar maple ranked second to beech in both abundance and frequency in trees less than 30 feet in height. Other species were of minor importance in all size classes.
Some acres were estimated to have as much as 50,000 board feet of sawtimber. However, the average board-foot volume per acre for the Tionesta Areas was estimated to be 15,000 board feet. Nearly three-fourths of this was hemlock.
Tree heights up to 125 feet were recorded. And many trees exceeded a diameter of 30 inches (fig. 10). The largest trees included a 53-
inch hemlock, a 50-inch red maple, a 48-inch yellow-poplar, and a 40-inch
black cherry. Hemlocks up to 560 years of age and a black cherry 258 years
old have been recorded in the parts of the climax forest that have since been
Twenty-seven shrub species have been recorded in the virgin forest (table 5). A shrub is con-
Figure 10.- The large tree on the left is a 35- inch black cherry tree. It is about 110 feet tall and about 140 years old. The large tree on the right is a hemlock of about the same size that died from natural causes.
sidered a woody perennial plant differing from a perennial herb in its
persistent and woody stem, and less definitely from a tree in its lower stature
and general absence of a well-defined main stem. Other understory
vegetation includes 4 club-mosses, 24 ferns, and 66 herbaceous plants. Of
these, hobblebush, maple- leaved viburnum, spinulose wood-fern, and shining
club-moss were the most common.
More than 60 species of birds were observed during the 1933 survey; probably all were nesting species. Included were predators (hawks
and owls), water-loving birds (herons and: kingfishers), woodpeckers,
warblers, and song birds.
A total of 29 mammals were observed, ranging in size from shrews and mice to black bear. Abundant species included chipmunks, porcupines, and deer. Less common were such animals as mink, weasel, fox, raccoon, squirrel, beaver, muskrat, and opossum. Black bears and bobcats were rare.
Fifteen species of fish were observed, but most were found only in the warmer waters of the main streams. The colder headwaters in the tract contained only native brook trout.
Of the 13 amphibians recorded, salamanders were the most common. Reptiles other than the common garter snake were rare.
In general, the trees, shrubs, herbs, mammals, and reptiles observed were those species more common to a northerly climate.
Composite lists of all the species recorded in the virgin hemlock-beech forest of the East Branch of Tionesta Creek in 1930 and 1933 are given at the end of this report. However, since the forest is constantly changing and different environments are created, some species may vanish while the populations of others rise or fall in company with the changing habitats. Other species may appear or disappear seasonally or with long-term climatic changes. These are some of the reasons why the lists of observed species can be only a guide to what might be present today.