Historical ecology of Inwood hill park, Manhattan, New York

Judith M. Fitzgerald, Robert E. Loeb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Colonial period agriculture and vegetation clearance practices during the American Revolution destroyed the pre-Columbian forest of Inwood Hill Park, Manhattan, New York. Native species plantings in early estates spread to form the park's forest, and post-1850 estates introduced non-native species. Parks Department management practices from 1930 to 1985 reduced forest cover, filled wetlands, and caused the number of non-native and invasive shrub and vine species to nearly triple. Liriodendron tulipifera L. and Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume have been identified as the dominant species in the Valley Forest since 1930. Prunus serotina Ehrh., Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees. and Viburnum acerifolium L. have continued to form fire-adapted stands in the East Ridge and Slopes Forest. In 2003, the highest density for Prunus serotina occurred in the repeatedly disturbed stands of the West Ridge and Slopes Forest. Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.) Cavara & Grande, an invasive species, was present only in the Ridge Tops Forest in 1985 and has become the dominant non-native herb species in all of the forests. The invasive shrub and vine species Celastrus orbiculatus Thunb., Lonicera japonica Thunb., L. maackii (Rupr.) Maxim., and Rosa multiflora Thunb. have become the dominants in the cleared areas of the Ridge Tops Forest. Sixteen woody invasive species are displacing native species across the park. Soil eroding into the salt marsh has caused the dominance of upland disturbance species. Replacing invasive species with native species has had mixed success because of limited funding to maintain plantings in the dry, impoverished soils of the park and areas treated with herbicides. Assessment methods for the restoration projects and for monitoring long-term species changes are recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Torrey Botanical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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