Succession of a Southern Appalachian Mountain Wetland Six Years following Hydrologic and Microtopographic Restoration

Authors


Address correspondence to I. M. Rossell, email irossell@unca.edu

Abstract

Microtopography, which is known to play a key role in the structure and function of wetland communities, is receiving increasing attention in wetland restoration projects. One goal of the Tulula Wetlands Mitigation Bank, which was the first large-scale wetland restoration project in the Blue Ridge Province, was to restore the microtopography in a degraded swamp forest–bog complex. This wetland type has become increasingly rare in the southern Appalachians and is characterized by a distinct microtopography of depressions and low ridges. We examined vegetation and soils in depression and ridge plots over a 6-year period, during which the hydrology and microtopography of the floodplain were restored. Our results showed that the flora of the depression and ridge plots differed, with greater coverage by obligate wetland species in the depression plots but greater overall taxonomic richness in the ridge plots. The edaphic characteristics that we measured varied very little during the study period. Creating microtopographic relief during the restoration of this wetland seems to have provided a variety of niches and may have increased the likelihood that the site will succeed back to a swamp forest–bog complex, rather than as a forested terrace of Tulula Creek.

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