I analyzed plant community composition, surface water chemistry, soil saturation, landscape position, and disturbance history in 4 small peatlands in WV’s Allegheny Plateau, to determine vegetational differences among communities and identify environmental variables associated with community patterning. Thirty-four plant communites were identified, representing 5 physiognomic types: forest, tall and low shrub, herbaceous, and bryophyte. Of 138 species, only 34 were common to all sites; 56 were unique to single sites. Principal components analysis identified a major physiognomic separation between forest and tall shrub communities with less acid surface waters (pH 4.6 – 5.0) dominated by base cations (Ca++, Mg++, Na+, K+), vs. low shrub and bryophyte communities with more acidic surface waters (pH 4.0 – 4.4). Much of the variation in community composition resulted from changes in the distributions of Hypericum densiflorum, Rubus hispidus, Polytrichum commune, and Sphagnum fallax, with changes in soil saturation. Community distribution reflected an underlying pattern of basin geomorphology modified by beaver disturbance.
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- Plant Community Composition and Surface Water Chemistry of Fen Peatlands in West Virginia’s Appalachian Plateau
Mark R. Walbridge
- Springer Netherlands