We investigated current forest composition in relation to land use history at Broad Meadow Brook, a 157 ha urban wildlife sanctuary in Worcester, central Massachusetts. We obtained historical information from aerial photographs dating back to 1938, maps dating to 1831, various published sources, and interviews with long-term residents. We sampled tree vegetation in 35 20 m × 20 m plots and understory vegetation in 140 5 m × 5 m subplots. We obtained ages of several dozen trees by coring. Most of the sanctuary supported dry, mixed-oak forest that has been subject to frequent fires. Disturbed oak woods bore a greater variety of plants than older oak forest, including several non-native species. Mesic forest supported Fraxinus americana, Acer rubrum, and A. saccharum, with an abundant A. platanoides understory, a legacy of nearby residential plantings. Acer rubrum heavily dominated wet woodland. A small, previously cultivated plot supported an open canopy of A. rubrum with a dense understory of herbs and shrubs and showed little tree regeneration. A wooded dump dating to the early to mid-1900s supported a greater percentage of mesic, early-successional, and non-native species than surrounding dry woodland. Pinus strobus and Tsuga canadensis were rare throughout the sanctuary, a likely result of extensive fires. The site contrasts strongly with Harvard Forest sites 48 km to the northwest in Petersham, Mass., presumably reflecting climatic differences and the greater influence of fire and other human disturbances.
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Vol. 108 • No. 934