Forest in the eastern United States is believed to experience a mesophication process, where shade-tolerant species are replacing holiophytic species. However, most evidence is anecdotal or localized. In this paper we present analyses of FIA datasets designed to formally quantify changes in species abundance in the eastern U.S. during the period of 1980 to 2007. We analyzed the overall condition and trend of eastern forest composition in the last two decades based on top 100 widely distributed species.
In general, most Pinus and Quercus species decreased in abundance, while most Carya, Acer, Fraxinus, and Prunus species increased in abundance. Spatial analysis indicated that the Central Hardwood Forest region experienced a drastic decrease in abundance of holiophytic species such as oak and a notable increase in mesophytic species such as red maple. Result of this analysis indicated that forest in the eastern U.S. is experiencing a mesophication process, at least regionally.