Feature Article: Vegetation of Isolated Montane Non-alluvial Wetlands of the Suthern Blue Ridge of North Carolina

This is an interesting thesis written by Brenda Wichmann.

2009 (Wichmann) Vegetation of geographically isolated montane non-alluvial wetlands of the southern Blue Ridge of North Carolina

Abstract – The ecological significance of montane non-alluvial wetlands in the southern Blue Ridge region of North Carolina is well known. However, there is relatively little quantitative documentation of these community types. In particular, our understanding of montane, peat-forming wetlands is based primarily on qualitative data, and there has been no previous comprehensive classification and description of these community types. In this study, species composition and vegetation-environment relationships are described for the geographically-isolated, non-alluvial wetlands of the southern Blue Ridge region of North Carolina. A hierarchical classification is presented for 12 community types within 2 broad vegetation classes based on 136 vegetation plots spanning the range of the southern Blue Ridge region of North Carolina. Hierarchical cluster analysis was used to delimit community types, and non-metric multidimensional scaling was subsequently used to help differentiate the community types identified by the cluster analysis. Although some of these community types fit well within currently recognized community concepts, others fit poorly within existing concepts, pointing to a need for definition of new types and/or significant refinement of types currently recognized. The 2 broad vegetation classes and 12 community types are discussed, each with a description of composition, related community concepts, and environmental context. Compositional variation among the types is most strongly associated with elevation, soil pH, soil nutrient availability, and soil cation exchange capacity.

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