Forest Disturbances: Occurrences and Impacts of Recreational, Hydrogeomorphic, and Climatic Disturbances
Kidd, Kathryn Rebecca Booker
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Disturbances impact abiotic and biotic components within forested ecosystems. This dissertation identifies the impacts of recreational crossing disturbances on water quality, uses dendrochronological techniques to estimate sediment deposition and identify impacts hydrology and climate on radial growth in riparian forested wetlands, and quantifies influences of biotic and abiotic factors on the occurrence of frost-induced cambial damage. In southwestern Virginia, modeled soil erosion rates for multiple-use (hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding) recreational trail approaches to stream crossings were found to be 13 times greater than rates for undisturbed forests. Downstream changes in macroinvertebrate-based indices indicated water quality was negatively affected downstream from culvert and ford crossings. These findings illustrate recreational stream crossings have the potential to deliver sediment into adjacent streams, particularly where best management practices are not being rigorously implemented, and as a result can negatively impact water quality below stream crossings. Impacts of hydrologic regime were apparent on sediment deposition and on green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.) and water tupelo (Nyssa aquatica L.) radial growth along the Tensaw River in southwest Alabama. Annual dendrogeomorphic sediment accretion rates were significantly greater for a recent time period (25 years) when compared to longer term rates (131 years) along a natural levee and backswamp. Radial growth in green ash along the natural levee and backswamp was found to be significantly correlated with days flooded and average daily stage level during April while water tupelo further in the backswamp appeared resistant to hydrologic and climatic fluctuations. Results illustrate the importance of riparian wetlands in trapping sediment from adjacent waterways and highlight the role hydrologic regime plays in bottomland succession and productivity. Across northern lower Michigan, late spring frost-induced cambial damage in jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) occurred more frequently in younger trees and in trees with smaller diameters. Biotic and abiotic factors were found to influence the occurrence of earlywood frost rings. Frequent occurrences of frost-rings can be used to identify frost-prone environments and geographical boundaries for plant species. This dissertation bridged gaps in knowledge of recreational, hydrogeomorphic, and climatic disturbances in forested ecosystems which can be used to develop management strategies.
- Doctoral Dissertations