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Abstract

On December 23-25, 1998, a major ice storm struck southeastern Virginia. The storm-deposited glaze ice felled trees and limbs, causing a power outage and highway blockage. Between February and April, 1999, we recorded occurrence, severity, and type of damage to trees over 2.5 cm dbh in nine mostly gently sloping plots in Matoaka Woods at the College of William and Mary. Frequency and severity of damage varied with species and with size of trees. Canopy damage occurred in 75% of large Fagus grandifolia trees, but in only 6% of small Sassafras albidum stems. As a group, small (2.5 to 15 cm dbh) trees were less likely to be damaged than large (> 15 cm dbh) trees, but about as likely to be severely damaged. Damage type also varied among the species and size. Despite severe damage to public utilities, damage within the forest was not great. Since few trees lost their entire crown, canopy gap sizes were small, and it not clear that much change in forest composition will result from this storm. However, increased density of ground litter will contribute to greater mineral release, and this, plus small gaps may promote growth of already present seedlings and saplings.

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