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Abstract Detail



Recent Topics Posters

Block, Ashley [1], Evans, Jonathan [2], Reid, Leighton [3].

The role of agricultural legacies in generating novel plant communities in nutrient-limited forests: A case study from the southern Cumberland Plateau, TN (USA).

Forests regenerating from abandoned agricultural land display legacy effects in soil and species composition that persist long after human land use ceases. Plant communities that recolonize these areas reflect previous land use and other intersecting influences often creating novel ecosystems that do not resemble forest composition prior to anthropogenic clearing. Small abandoned farms dot the Southern Appalachian landscape, and we have examined one such area where a blend elements including persisting soil legacies and proximity to seed sources have created one such novel ecosystem. We sampled tree communities and soil nutrients of plots within and surrounding a former agricultural site on the Cumberland Plateau that has been regenerating for approximately 70 years. Communication with former inhabitants of the farm revealed specific land use decisions, including use of soil amendments, that elucidated causal factors driving these specific soil legacy effects. Magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and pH of soil within the previous farm were significantly higher than plateau soils outside the farm, though more similar to environmental conditions in the cove. The vegetation community within the farm presents a unique blend of species found in both the cove and plateau environments, even though compositionally these communities are distinct in the surrounding landscape. The interplay of legacies, specifically persisting soil nutrient differences that resemble environmental conditions of the cove, and the seed sources for regenerating plants have led to a novel plant community that is more similar to that of the adjacent cove forest than to the surrounding plateau forest. Human alteration of the landscape in the form of agriculture has been common across the southeast; due to changing land use practices, areas that were historically farmed are reverting back to forests. This study is an illustration of how agricultural legacies can alter the direction of forest change within native ecosystems resulting in the creation and long-term persistence of novel plant assemblages.


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1 - University of Georgia, 136 Putters Drive, Athens, GA, 30607, USA
2 - University of the South, 735 University Ave., Sewanee, TN, 37383, USA
3 - Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 229, St. Louis, MO, 63166, USA

Keywords:
agricultural legacies
land-use history
soils
forest composition.

Presentation Type: Recent Topics Poster
Session: P, Recent Topics Posters
Location: Exhibit Hall/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 1st, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PRT022
Abstract ID:1215
Candidate for Awards:None


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