Influences of Soil Amendments and Microtopography on Vegetation at a Created Tidal Freshwater Swamp in Southeastern Virginia

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of amendments (control, (1x) compost, (2x) compost, (TS) topsoil, and 1x+TS) and microtopography (level, pit and mound) on three parameters (plant species composition, above-ground characteristics of Taxodium distichum, and plant root characteristics) of vegetation growing at a created tidal freshwater swamp in Virginia. None of the soil treatments met the traditional vegetation criteria for federal wetland jurisdictional determination, which only considers dominant species. When the same criteria were used for all of the species, the control, 1x, and 2x treatments met jurisdictional criteria. Considering these findings, vegetative criteria should be re-evaluated for young created wetlands. Compost addition produced the highest proportion of obligate wetland species (30%) while topsoil additions created the lowest proportion of wetland obligates (11%) and the highest proportion of upland plants. The 1x treatment generated the greatest species evenness and lowest weighted average (2.57). Topsoil treatments had the lowest diversity and evenness. Therefore, compost amendment is recommended to increase hydrophytes without compromising evenness and diversity. Bald cypress in pits were taller, had larger trunk diameter and basal trunk swelling than trees growing at higher elevations. Roots growing in mounds were more numerous with greater length than roots at lower elevations. Root length and count were highest for the control soil treatment. Amended treatments may have had lower rooting values because nutrient supply was adequate. Overall, incorporating microtopography and compost during wetland creation had a positive effect on vegetative function in this system.

species diversity, hydrophytic vegetation, flooding adaptations, Taxodium distichum, tree morphology, root morphology, wetland creation, C allocation.