Ecosystem Components - Vegetation
At BBWM, both West Bear and East Bear watersheds have similar vegetation. The upper components of each watershed are dominated by softwoods that are remnants of the vegetation that likely dominated all areas of these watersheds prior to harvesting in the lower elevations. The boundary between the upper softwood vegetation and mixed and hardwood stands is attributable to past cutting practices. The lower portions of the watershed are dominated by northern hardwoods, and there is transitional mixed wood stands in the mid elevations. The softwood understory is relatively open while the hardwood understory is highly vegetated and sometimes quite dense. A vegetative inventory at BBWM is available in Eckhoff and Wiersma (2002) where they implemented the USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring inventory system at BBWM.
The upper elevations in each watershed are dominated by softwood stands >100 years old, primarily composed of red spruce (Picea rubens Sarg.) and balsam fir (Abies balsamea L. Mill).
Lower elevations are dominated by hardwood stands ~55 years old comprised of American beech (Fagus grandiofolia Ehrh.), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis Britt.), red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) (Norton et al., 1999).