The forest communities of northeastern Pennsylvania are diverse due to variation in climate, geologic history, soil types, and topography. This research specifically surveyed the forest communities of the Bear Creek region of southeastern Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to document the current forest community composition and to compare the forests of today to the last known forest survey in this area completed by Donahue in the early 1950s; and (b) to propose explanations for the differences observed between the two survey periods. The upland forest community surveyed by Donahue was dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum) and oaks (Quercus alba and Quercus rubra), with these three species accounting for 78.4% of all stems recorded. In contrast, the contemporary upland forest is now dominated by oaks (Q. alba and Q. rubra), with a subdominant layer composed of Acer saccharum, A. rubrum, and Sassafras albidum. In the lowland, wetter forest communities, Tsuga canadensis was the dominant species at both time periods; however, in the 1950's, Fagus grandifolia was an important subdominant species, but by 2010, this species was not recorded in this forest type at Bear Creek. There has been a shift in the forests at Bear Creek in the 6 decades since Donahue's survey. In that time, beech bark disease was reported in Pennsylvania, and deer browsing was noted as having a major impact on tree regeneration.
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Vol. 79 • No. 3