Date of Award

2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Regulatory Biology

Department

College of Sciences and Health Professions

First Advisor

Krebs, Robert

Subject Headings

Botany, Climate Change, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental Management, Experiments, Forestry, Natural Resource Management

Abstract

Disturbance regimes, i.e. frequent fires, historically maintained oak barrens until European settlement patterns, and eventually, Smoky the Bear and the fire suppression campaign of the U.S. Forest Service snuffed out the periodic flames. In the absence of a disturbance regime, ground layer floral composition at many historical oak sand barrens will change predominantly because of a buildup of leaf litter and shading of the soils. Termed mesophication, this process of ecological succession will drive Black Oak Sand Barrens to an alternate steady state. A survey conducted on Singer Lake Bog in Green, Ohio, demonstrated that succession shifted the community to red maple-black cherry woodlands more typical of a dry southern forest. In an attempt to revive disturbance, three restoration techniques were applied at ten degraded northeast Ohio oak barrens to contrast their effectiveness in restoring black oak sand barren flora. The three restoration treatments were select canopy tree reduction favoring 5% to 30% tree canopy cover, forest floor leaf litter removal, and prescribed fire. Vegetation responses to manipulations were monitored prior to and following treatment applications, and were compared against both baseline data from before-treatment surveys and paired control sites adjacent treated areas. Imposing disturbance successfully increased species diversity and abundance above that found across Singer Lake Bog compared to sampling made prior to and adjacent to treated areas. Select canopy tree removal exhibited the largest floral responses from targeted barrens species, i.e. graminoids. A forest floor invertebrate family (Carabidea: Coleoptera) was measured for species richness and abundance pre and post treatment, where a noticeable shift occurred away from woodland obligate ground beetles toward open grassland species. Replicating oak barren structure, prior to replicating disturbance processes, is the first step in the ecological restoration of these systems.

Included in

Biology Commons

Share

COinS