MODELING THE PLANT COMMUNITIES OF LONG BRANCH ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Sarah Martin (Creator)
Institution
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site: http://library.wcu.edu/

Abstract: The study of environmental gradients that affect plant community composition can lead to useful information about what shapes a community. Modeling these relationships can provide a tool for management and environmental education. This study examined environmental characteristics and species composition of understory plant communities at Long Branch Environmental Education Center in western Buncombe County, NC, USA. This information was used to test the reliability of using environmental factors to distinguish among plant communities. The study also tested if stands with different topography differ in their recovery from disturbance. Soil characteristics, aspect, elevation, and light influenced the composition of both spring and summer communities. Some communities from both seasons differed in soil properties and aspect. Some summer communities also differed in elevation. Surprisingly, these environmental factors failed to distinguish among all of the communities. For example,dispersal may have had an overriding influence on the composition of summer communities. Also, an interaction between elevation and age affected the total richness of plant communities, suggesting that stands that differ in topography also differ in their response to logging. Overall, the study suggests that some environmental factors may reliably distinguish among communities that are defined at a coarse scale. It also suggests that management practices, especially aggressive management such as logging,should be carefully implemented based on topographic characteristics of sites.

Additional Information

Publication
Dissertation
Language: English
Date: 2005
Subjects
Plant communities -- North Carolina -- Buncombe County
Plant ecology -- North Carolina -- Buncombe County
Long Branch Environmental Education Center (Buncombe County, N.C.)

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