Spatial Patterns in a 40-year-old Slash Pine (Pinus elliottii Engelm.) Forest in the Coastal Plain of South Carolina

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Virginia Tech

A study was conducted at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, SC to: 1) characterize the spatial patterns of soil and forest floor variables (moisture, pH, soil phosphate, forest floor and soil carbon and nitrogen, and soil available nitrogen), 2) assess the spatial patterns of the plant community, and 3) investigate spatial relationships among the variables and between the variables and woody vegetation. Spatial soil and litter samples were collected on five 0.25 hectare plots, and relationships were explored using Pearson's correlation tests, canonical correlation analysis, variogram modeling and kriging.

The average range of spatial autocorrelation for the forest floor variables was >45 m, while that for soil variables was 12 m. Woody stem basal area exhibited spatial autocorrelation at ranges of less than 12 m, and was only weakly correlated with forest floor and soil resource patterns. Few strong spatial correlations among the forest floor and soil variables were observed. The means and variances of the variables were low, and differences in resource levels probably had little impact on the spatial pattern of vegetation. Results indicate a weak, differential effect of species group on litter quality, a weak relationship between large pine trees and soil nitrogen patterns, and a general homogeneity of the stands.

soil-environment relationships, spatial heterogeneity, slash pine forest soil, geostatistics