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Keywords:

  • argillic soil horizon;
  • Carolina bay;
  • restoration;
  • wetland hydroperiod;
  • wetland soils

Abstract

Carolina bays are shallow depression wetlands found in the southeastern United States that have been severely altered by human activity. The need to restore these complex and diverse systems is well established, but our limited understanding of wetland hydrologic processes in these systems hinders our ability to assess the effectiveness of bay restoration efforts. Carolina bays exhibit a wide range of moisture regimes from seasonally saturated to semipermanently inundated. Differing physicochemical properties of soils within bay interiors may control bay hydrology. However, previous efforts to establish relationships between soil characteristics and bay hydrology have been inconclusive. An assessment of soil and hydroperiod was initiated in 16 bays designated to be restored and 6 bays that were not restored (reference). Soil morphology was described, and permanent monitoring wells were installed at each site. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine relationships between the soil physicochemical characteristics and the bay hydroperiod for restored and reference bays in both pre- and postrestoration periods. A significant relationship (r2= 0.75, p= 0.02) between prerestoration hydroperiod and clay content in the argillic horizon (Bt) of the reference bays was observed. This relationship was then used to evaluate hydroperiod change in the restored bays from the postrestoration period. The relationship accurately identified sites that exhibited high prerestoration hydroperiods and did not need hydrologic restoration (n= 4) and effectively showed sites that exhibited substantial increases in hydroperiod due to the restoration activities (n= 7).