Date of Award

12-2014

Culminating Project Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Biological Sciences - Ecology and Natural Resources: M.S.

Department

Biology

College

College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

William M. Cook

Second Advisor

Matthew L. Julius

Third Advisor

Mikhail S. Blinnikov

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

fragmentation, old growth, birds, vegetation, habitat, Kraemer Lake County Park, Wildwood County Park

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation generates forest fragments with increased ratio of "edge". This "edge effect" alters the natural community. Old growth forests support deep forest communities which rely on the closed canopy for survival, often indicators of healthy old growth communities. Putative old growth forest patches were identified in Wildwood Park and St. John’s Arboretum/University. One study objective was to collect baseline data on flora and fauna in Wildwood to confirm the presence of old-growth patches. The main ecological goal of the study was to determine if bird and plant communities exhibited patterns consistent with the operating assumption of 50 acre old-growth relicts surrounded by forest buffers of varying size, and if so, whether the communities in the buffers followed expectations of ecological theory. Birds and plants known to associate with old growth habitats were identified at Wildwood and then compared to similar habitats at St. John’s. The research included three sites, one at Wildwood (WW) and two at St. John’s (SJA & SJU), a total of 14 plots in all. Each site had a different amount of plots depending on the size of buffer zone at that site. After surveying the plots, we compared richness between the different zones (core & buffer) to determine if old growth species richness is higher in old growth core areas of the forest than the surrounding successional buffer that isolates the core from the "edge effect". Richness was inconclusive with no statistical significance seen; possibly due to the small sample size or unforeseen weather events. The strongest patterns observed (via ordination analyses) were when vegetative cluster analysis and canonical correspondence were run. Cluster analysis indicated four to five of the six old growth plots clustered in all seasons. Canonical correspondence analysis were performed, plotting CCA Axis 1 vs Axis 2; generating graphs with the points (samples) labeled three different ways (site, zone and season). In each case there appeared visually to be patterning on either Axis 1 or 2 (or both), so we ran a series of analyses of variance to determine whether these patterns were statistically significant. One-way ANOVA’s indicated statistically significant differences (by the Tukey’s Test) in seasons, zones and sites. The most robust patterns occurred when comparing site differences. This study found strong vegetative diversity patterns among seasons, zones and sites with what appears to be no difference between the sizes of the buffer zones but rather the land management practices.

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