Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Major

Entomology and Plant Pathology

Major Professor

Ernest C. Bernard

Committee Members

Jennifer A. Franklin, Bonnie H. Ownley

Abstract

Traditional restoration of post mining sites in the southeastern U.S. utilizes methods that discourage above and below-ground succession of native floral and faunal communities. Recent advances in mining restoration techniques proposed by the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative (ARRI) have improved above-ground plant succession and growth rates in reclaimed sites by developing the Forestry Reclamation Approach (FRA), a process that discourages substrate compaction and encourages native plant succession. The below-ground component of these reclaimed areas remains undescribed, however. Below-ground invertebrate communities in mining restoration sites have been largely ignored, despite their potential importance to the long-term recovery of these profoundly disturbed sites. Nematode communities were measured in both traditional and FRA reclaimed sites using a chronosequence to measures community shifts over time, as well as intact un-mined forests. Nematodes were identified to morphospecies and by trophic groups. This study demonstrated that species richness, Shannon diversity, and abundance measures became similar to forested sites in reclaimed sites between nine and fifteen years since reclamation. Less coarse analyses, including abundance of indicator morphospecies and trophic abundances showed a deficit of nematode taxa remains, even in older sites. Bacteria-feeding nematodes increased over time in both FRA and traditional reclamation sites, while plant feeding nematodes increased later in the choronosequence of both treatments. Genera such as Ogma, Xiphinema, Teratocephalus, and Acrobeles were indicative of intact forest sites and were under-represented in disturbed sites. Nematode communities may have bottom-up effects on plants, and can have inhibitory effects on both the nutrient status and biomass of plants when nematode abundances are low or plant parasites abundances are high.

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