Dataset Overview

The New England hurricane of 1938, by destroying many acres of mature and semi-mature forests, initiated new forest associations over a large area. Permanent plots were established across the Harvard Forest in severely damaged stands (many of which were logged subsequent to the hurricane) to assess forest succession. Most of the plots involved successions following the blowdown of white pine on glacial till or outwash soils. From 1940 to 1948, and in 1978 and 1991, tree density and presence or absence of herb and shrub species were tallied. Pioneer species regenerating from seed and advance regeneration of longer-lived species quickly established at the sites; hemlock was the only species successfully regenerating after year 10, and most tree species were present within 2-4 years of the hurricane. By 1978, pioneer species such as gray birch and pin cherry declined or disappeared and red maple, white pine, paper birch and red oak dominated the plots. By 1991, most understory species present before the hurricane had returned, although there was a small group of understory species that apparently were more sensitive to disturbance and did not recover.

See Full Dataset Documentation


To observe the succession of forest stands that were destroyed by a hurricane in 1938 and then, for the most part, logged after the hurricane.

Data Collection Status

Data collection for this dataset is ongoing

Start date


Data Availability

This dataset is available to download from another website

Data License

Linked - Third party determines data license

Preferred Citation

Foster D, Spurr S. 2009. Hurricane Recovery Plots at Harvard Forest since 1937. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF040. Available at:

Update Frequency


Maintenance Plan

Not provided


  • Hurricane Recovery Plots at Harvard Forest since 1937
  • Harvard Forest
  • Related Datasets

    Determining Dataset Similarity