I just made this journal post of some of the evidence I have collected trying to prove longleaf pine existed here as well as what habitat I believe existed on the ridge historically, a savannah type ecosystem. I wanted to share the journal post here and get tips/advice/criticism on moving forward. My family only owns a very small section of the property nowadays(about two acres, one of which is currently entirely brush that I have been thinking about burning once the burn bans go away).
Write a article on your blog?
The US Geological Survey has historical topographic maps which might be worth looking at.
In researching some family property about 150 miles west of you I found some old survey notes at the General Land office.
The General Land Office has some Survey Plats and field notes. At the section corners they will usually list the 4 witness trees and what kind of tree they are. They will often make brief notes regarding soil and List 3-5 of the predominant trees in the area.
Thank you for this resource- I found the original survey notes from the township that date back to 1821! I still have no idea how to read them, but I’ll get there! I saw one statement that included “thinly spaced oak and pine on deep, sandy soil”
The epithet of your focal species Pinus palustris would seem to suggest that that plant and possibly the subcanopy it shelters depends to a lesser or greater extent on the presence of seasonal boglands and marshy conditions in its immediate habitat in order to flourish
A worthwhile effort to establish if there was a historical presence of a unique vegetative assemblage there (whether or not the component species can be ID’d) would be to teach yourself the fundamentals of remote sensing and then use this very helpful website
The satellite imagery you can view here filtered through various wavelength combinations only goes as far back as 2016, but if you combine it smartly with historical imagery from Google Earth and perhaps do a cursory survey of the hydrology of that area, you can start to make really insightful inferences as to the patterns of plant succession and in what sort of time frame it happens.
For example: Some wavelengths will allow you to see at what level photosynthesis is taking place and where such activities are concentrated, others will allow you to scope out soil moisture and its inherent flux with slope gradient and aspect. If the water table there is undisturbed and experiences anomolies such as hydrostatic head, it may have resulted in that old pine patch being moisture laden throughout most or all of the year at some point in the past. I’m sure you can use these methods and others to synthesize all this evidence into a comprehensive theory about what the vegetation was like there prior to the arrival of the foresters. It will of course take alot of learning coupled with a healthy knowledge of how plant communities adapt and evolve over time but once you get that pinned down, your findings should be quite thrilling! I’ve only just dipped my toes into remote sensing myself so I can’t give any further advice
Best of luck, and please do keep us posted on your progress
The specific epithet actually is a misnomer. The guy who named the species originally found in in a flooded area, but it is much more of a dry species, heavily reliant on fire regimes. There are a lot of big words here, but I will definitely look around on that website! Thanks. I will be sure to update, especially if I find a P. palustris on the property