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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project


Biological Sciences


Gas exchange in plants, Photosynthesis, Clearcutting, Forest resilience, Carbon cycle (Biogeochemistry), Leaf level gas exchange, Carbon sink, Forest disturbance, Forest ecology


New England forests have a long history of disturbance and recovery. Forests have been clearcut for farmland and then regrown following farm abandonment over the past centuries. Global shifts in land use has led to changes in the environment. The rise of atmospheric CO2 has led to increased study on the effect of disturbances on the carbon cycle. The photosynthetic capacity of plants plays a vital, but often unstudied role in the carbon cycle of forest ecosystems. This study focused on the effect of environmental factors including water and nitrogen availability on the photosynthetic capacity of species after a large scale clear-cut disturbance. To test for the role of dominant species within a rebounding ecosystem I measured their photosynthetic capacity suing the Li-Cor 6400xt. Results showed that each species was limited by different environmental factors. Overall species appear to be improving their photosynthetic capacity from year to year after the clearcut. These results are import to better understand how forest ecosystems recover from large scale disturbances.




42 pages : color illustrations. Honors project-Smith College, 2015. Includes bibliographical references (pages 40-42)