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Abstract Detail


Long, James [1], Schenk, John J. [1].

Determining sandhill plant assemblages and endemism based on plant diversity and distributions.

Sandhills are unique ecosystems formed during the Miocene from either the remnants of coastal beaches that were caused by the rising and falling of sea level, or from the movement and accumulation of sands by wind and rivers. Sandhill ecosystems are characterized by dry, sandy soils and are noted to contain a unique assemblage of plants and animals. Similar to the larger long-leaf pine (Pinus palustris) and wire grass (Aristida stricta) ecosystem that sandhills belong to, agriculture, development, and habitat modifications have caused sandhill ecosystems to become degraded and fragmented, putting many species at risk. Previous studies have focused on species diversity within individual sandhill sites, leaving us with an incomplete understanding of how these communities form, what species are sandhill endemics, whether endemic species are found across all sandhills, and how species have evolved and adapted to these communities. To gain a more comprehensive understanding of how these ecosystems assembled, we sampled across four sandhill sites of the Georgian Coastal Plain and compared species occurrences. Our preliminary assessment identified 240 species that occurred on sandhills, and as expected, species diversity was positively correlated with sandhill area size. Across all four sites, 147 plant species occurred on a single site, and of these species, 139 occurred on the two largest sites. Sixty-five species occurred on two sites and 10 occurred on three sites. Seventeen species were collected from all four sites, five of which we identified as only occurring on sandhill. The endemic composition of the sandhill flora makes up 13% of of the total species that occur in these habitats. Many of the non-endemic sandhill species opportunistically colonize these habitats from the surrounding areas and the colonization rate appears proportional to the habitat area. Our results further suggest that additional decreases in available sandhill habitats will have a negative effect on plant species diversity, which could lead to the loss of the small, but important endemic sandhill community.

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1 - Georgia Southern University, Department of Biology, 4324 Old Register Road, Statesboro, GA, 30458, USA

Coastal Plains
Community assembly.

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P, Ecology Section Posters
Location: Exhibit Hall/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 1st, 2016
Time: 5:30 PM This poster will be presented at 5:30 pm. The Poster Session runs from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Posters with odd poster numbers are presented at 5:30 pm, and posters with even poster numbers are presented at 6:15 pm.
Number: PEC013
Abstract ID:338
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Undergraduate Presentation Award

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