Vegetation monitoring transects established in calcareous glade habitats in 1993 at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park were resampled in 2006 and 2008. Data showed an increase in woody cover and a correlated decrease in density of herbaceous plants characteristic of this habitat. The average percent cover of woody species increased from 35.9% in 1993 to 64.3% in 2006/2008 for the 11 glades sampled. Nearly all woody species showed an increase in percent cover with Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (Eastern red-cedar) increasing the most in percent cover (11% increase in cover, a 57% change). The non-native invasive shrub Ligustrum sinense (Chinese privet) ranked second in increase in cover (4.63%) and is now the third most abundant woody species in the glades. In addition, transects showed a decrease in the density of herbaceous plants characteristic of these calcareous glades ranging from 35% to 100%, including Pediomelum subacaule, Viola egglestonii, Dalea gattingeri, Ruellia humilis, Hypericum dolabriforme, Ratibida pinnata, Scutellaria leonardii, Silphium pinnatifidum, Packera paupercula, Leavenworthia exigua var. exigua, and Delphinium carolinianum ssp. calciphilum. The evidence from this study strongly suggests a decline in the natural integrity of these glade communities over a 15-year period and an increase in the natural rate of ecological succession with the invasion of a non-native species. Our management recommendations focus on two equally important actions: the targeted removal of Ligustrum sinense and the re-introduction of fire into the forest/woodland environment surrounding the glades.
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