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Spatial Impacts of Stream and Wetland Restoration on Riparian Soil Properties in the North Carolina Piedmont

Authors

  • Joshua M. Unghire,

    Corresponding author
    1. Duke University Wetland Center, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, PO Box 90333, Durham, NC 27708, U.S.A.
    2. Present address: 806 Parkwood Avenue, Floor 2, Annapolis, MD 21403, U.S.A.
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  • Ariana E. Sutton-Grier,

    1. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, PO Box 28, Edgewater, MD 21037, U.S.A.
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  • Neal E. Flanagan,

    1. Duke University Wetland Center, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, PO Box 90333, Durham, NC 27708, U.S.A.
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  • Curtis J. Richardson

    1. Duke University Wetland Center, Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, PO Box 90333, Durham, NC 27708, U.S.A.
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J. M. Unghire, email JMUnghire@alumni.duke.edu

Abstract

Hydric soil development of riparian wetlands is primarily influenced by the hydrologic connection between the floodplains and the stream channel. Often, the goal of riparian restoration is to revitalize this connectivity through a restructuring of the stream channel and the floodplain; however, the effects of this restructuring on the physical and spatial characteristics of soil properties are rarely considered. The objective of this study was to quantify the impacts of restoration efforts on the spatial characteristics of soil properties by means of a pre- and post-restoration comparison. We determined that the spatial patterns of soil organic matter (SOM) and exchangeable phosphorus (Pex) appeared less variable in the years following restoration than in the years before restoration. Mean SOM significantly decreased after restoration, whereas mean Pex significantly increased. The spatial characteristics and mean concentrations of NO2–NO3 did not differ much between sampling dates. The loss of this spatial patterning in SOM and Pex and the decrease in SOM pools may represent negative impacts of restoration on important ecosystem characteristics. This study demonstrates that soil properties and spatial patterns can be negatively affected by restoration activities potentially hindering ecosystem development and function.

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