Saltonstall Ridge, East Haven, Ct
Descriptive information about the study area

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Saltonstall ridge is a long crescent-shaped basalt ridge in East Haven, Connecticut, just a few kilometers north of Long Island Sound. It runs mainly north-south while curving from the NE to the SE. The top of the ridge is about 100 m above the surrounding landscape and is about 300m wide at the base. Lake Saltonstall, a water authority reservoir, lies to the east of the ridge, inside the curve, and the Farm River valley lies to the west. The rock that is now the ridge intruded into the surrounding bedrock during the Triassic period as a broad lava flow. The region subsequently was downfaulted on the east and then overlain by deep sedimentary sandstone rocks. Since then, Triassic erosional processes have removed the sedimentary rock and left the considerably harder basalt ridge we see today. The crest of the ridge is several tens of meters wide and quite plateau-like with the east and west slopes falling away from the plateau quite steeply. Soils are very shallow and rocky, primarily composed of rounded and angular basalt cobbles and stones. Although direct outcrops of the basalt are infrequent, the bedrock is within a meter of the surface over much of the ridge.

 The ridge is covered by a mixed deciduous forest with scattered hemlock. The hemlock was much more abundant until about 1987; since then, it has largely succumbed to an exotic insect pest—the hemlock woolly adelgid. Deciduous species are primarily sugar maple and oak on the west slope and a mix of oaks and hickories with sugar maple on the east slope.

 The entire ridge is owned and managed by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority as a public water supply protection watershed and, secondarily, for timber production. Some saw logs are removed and cull trees are sold to small wood cutters for fire wood cutting. Timber is harvested selectively under a strict management plan. An access road runs the length of the summit.

Study Area

 Our study area lies about 2 km north of I-95 and 3-400 m north of a large water storage tank on the ridge. The study area is laid out as a series of adjacent, continuous transects across the ridge. Plot numbering starts on the Farm River side (west) and goes east to the edge of the Lake. The plots we are currently re-measuring in 1999 were established in 1991 as part of this same course at Yale. There are 30 plots along each transect (though 29 were studied in 1991), each 10x10m, not slope-corrected. The staked grid system is set up with the stakes marking the center lines of each of the 4 adjacent transects. Plot edges are determined as being within 5 meters of either side of the center line.

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Methods of Ecosystem Analysis
Date Last Modified: 4/12/99
F&ES 579B, Spring 1999