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The vascular flora of Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve, Brunswick County, North Carolina

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
J. Clay Morris (Creator)
Institution
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site: http://library.uncw.edu/
Advisor
Greg Chandler

Abstract: The vascular plants of Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve (BSLP) in Brunswick County, North Carolina were collected and catalogued during the growing seasons of 2005 through 2007. The 2,400 ha tract is comprised of Coastal Fringe Sandhills, Wet Pine Flatwoods, Pine Savannas, Small Depression Ponds, and Pond Pine Woodlands. The variety of ecosystems and relatively low disturbance has resulted in the designation of BSLP as a nationally significant ecological site. Brunswick County has the highest concentration of rare plants in North Carolina, but few floristic surveys from the region have been published. This study is the first comprehensive floristic survey of BSLP. A total of 403 species from 88 families were found in the survey. Families with greatest representation of individual species were Asteraceae (61), Cyperaceae (46), Poaceae (44), Fabaceae (20), and Ericaceae (14). Two new state records, Croton michauxii and Rubus discolor, and 40 new county records were added to the state and county floras. Further conservation implications and management suggestions were suggested based on observations made in several powerline clearcuts that transect the site. Longleaf pine ecosystems are characterized by high groundcover species richness, but the intent of most commercial pine plantation management techniques is to reduce understory competition. In areas where pine plantations are the focus of longleaf pine restoration efforts, questions arise as to the negative impact of intensive management practices on the native groundcover. The objective of this study was to examine plant associations in a loblolly (Pinus taeda) pine plantation and determine some of the abiotic variables driving the associations. Such information provides insight into restoration techniques that will best address current problematic site issues (erosion, low soil organic material (SOM)) that hamper restoration efforts. Thirty-one North Carolina Vegetation Survey (NCVS) plots were established in the summer of 2006 to classify the vegetation in a 57 ha loblolly pine plantation within the Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve in Brunswick County, North Carolina. Abiotic variables measured were soil organic carbon (SOC) in the A, E, and B horizons, elevation, and the depth to the B horizon (DBTH). Water availability is one of the main limiting resources in longleaf pine systems and is critical to the storage of SOC, therefore, SOC from the A, E, and B horizons were used as proxies for moisture content. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS) was used to classify and ordinate the herbaceous plots into two consistent groups, hydrophytic and xerophytic, based on a soil moisture gradient along the first axis. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) and Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) grouped plots along gradients of the abiotic variables with xerophytic plots being positively correlated with elevation and DBTH. This is reasonable because increasing DBTH with increasing elevation results in decreased proximity to perched water tables, favoring the establishment of xeric adapted species. This study demonstrated that moisture availability structures plant associations and early restoration efforts should focus on increasing SOM as a means to maintain the water balance and reduce the effects of erosion, providing conducive conditions for restoration planting.

Additional Information

Publication
Thesis
A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Science
Language: English
Date: 2009
Keywords
Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve (N.C.), Botany--North Carolina--Brunswick County, Plants--North Carolina--Brunswick County
Subjects
Plants -- North Carolina -- Brunswick County
Botany -- North Carolina -- Brunswick County
Boiling Spring Lakes Preserve (N.C.)