Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Major Professor

Paul A. Delcourt

Committee Members

Hazel R. Delcourt, Edward Buckner


Lake in the Woods is a woodland hollow pond formed on colluvium at the western end of Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The modern flora of the lake is dominated by Liquidambar styraciflua and includes several species with Coastal Palin affinities--Acer rubrum variety trilobum, Woodwardia virginica, and Helianthus angustifolius. The fine-scale vegetation changes at Lake in the Woods from 6600 BP to present have been studied using the paleoecological analysis of pollen, fungal palynomorphs, and charcoal influx. Results show that the dominants of the pond changed from Liquidambar to Salix between 6600 and 6500 BP, due to episodic sheet-wash under a moist climatic regime. Rapid changes in arboreal dominance with Cephalanthus understory dominance characterized the lake between 6500 to 6300. The lake persisted during drier climatic conditions from 6300 to 1900 BP as indicated by increased percentages of Castanea, Quercus, and Xanthium. As absolute precipitation increased in between 3000 and 1900 BP the percentage of mesic species increased in the basin. Pinus increased dramatically from 1900 to 165 BP following a peak in charcoal influx. Historic changes in the lake include minor drainage, increased in sweetgum and pine and the decline of chestnut. No Ambrosia rise is recorded at Lake in the Woods with settlement and clearing because of the local nature of pollen deposition. The interaction of climatic and geomorphic processes at Lake in the Woods have enabled it to serve as a refugium for Coastal Plain species during the Holocene.

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