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Surviving the revolution, easier than withstanding human use and abuse
Date:8/11/2008

Inwood Hill Park survived the drastic modifications of Revolutionary War patriots, but preserving this last bastion of large-growth, mature trees in New York City is difficult with the proliferation of invasive species and hard human use, according to biologists. They suggest the situation warrants a plan in collaboration with those studying the park.

"Performing plantings is a never-ending process unless the causes of plant losses are understood and addressed," says Robert Loeb, associate professor of biology and forestry, Penn State DuBois campus. "Considering what is known about past species changes in Inwood Park and other New York City parks, the New York City Parks Department Natural Resources Group ecological restoration efforts would benefit from structured, scientific research on plantings survival through partnerships with scientists who have studied the ecology of New York City parks."

Inwood Hill Park, located in uptown Manhattan north of Dyckman Street on the Hudson River and the Harlem Ship Canal, (formerly Spuyten Duyvil) runs east to Payson and Seaman avenues and comprises 196 acres of hilly forest and a small salt marsh. Native Americans lived in the nearby caves before European occupation. Under the Dutch, Jan Dyckman farmed this part of New Amsterdam and planted apple orchards.

Both British and American forces controlled the area at various times during the Revolutionary War and both, to protect troops, practiced vegetation clearing. After the war, in the first half of the 19th century, estate owners replanted with locally available indigenous plants. In the later half of the 19th century, non-native plants became available and estate owners used them.

Loeb and Judith M. Fitzgerald, lecturer in biology, Lehman College, divided the park into sections and surveyed the vegetation. They compared their findings with those surveys that exist from as early as 1867 and reported them in the most recent issue of the
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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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