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Amy Hessl
Department of Geology and Geography



Kristen de Graauw


Education: BA Kennesaw State University 2010
MS Indiana State University 2012


Description: The composition and dynamics of central Appalachian forests changed rapidly following European settlement. Trees were logged for timber and land was cleared for agriculture and pasture, creating mosaics of forests on the landscape. Much of our understanding of forest dynamics prior to European settlement is based on few, fragmented old-growth stands which are not representative of most forested areas in the region. However, valuable information about past forests may be hiding in plain sight, as there are countless sources of pre-settlement wood on the landscape in the form of historic log structures. Historic log structures hold information that may be useful to forest ecology studies throughout eastern North America, including records of once prevalent species (e.g. American chestnut), and they cover a larger temporal and spatial domain than living old-growth trees alone. In my dissertation, I am exploring the types of ecological information held within historic log structures and how these data might be used to further our understanding of forest dynamics during the pre-and-early-settlement periods in the central Appalachian region.