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  • 1 University of Toronto Department of Botany, Erindale College L5M 1C6 Mississauga, Ontario
  • | 2 University of Toronto Department of Botany, Erindale College N6A 1W6 London, Ontario
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Old-growth forests are declining throughout eastern North America, especially toward the northern limit of the deciduous formation where gently undulating topography and milder climate especially encourage human activity. Remnants exist, but do they retain the defining characteristics of the original vegetation? The objective was tomarshal information required to answer this question, and toward this objective we assessed vegetation in a small 1 ha remnant of maple-beech forest with no history of past logging and compared it to well known and larger old-growth areas in the region. We used Curtis. s (1959) Point Quarter method to provide full quantitative data for trees, saplings, shrub and herbs. Size class distribution of trees and successional status of the stand were assessed. As a general conclusion, we found that tree species richness of our remnant was higher than most recognized large old-growth forests and, while the herbaceous understorey was poorer in species than larger tracts, it exhibited three provincially rare species. Furthermore, the successional status and structural complexity of the remnant were typical of old-growth forests. In overall comparative terms, the remnant was found not be an outlier when ordinated with larger forests. It thus is safe to conclude that this remnant constitutes an ecological benchmark well worth protection, despite its limited size.

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