Ecosystem Function and Restoration in the Cache River Bioreserve-Final Report

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Department of Agribusiness Economics, SIUC

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The main purpose of this grant was to give undergraduate students research experience via ongoing studies of cypress swamps in southern Illinois. The research was on a riverine system with altered hydrology, Buttonland Swamp, where sedimentation and protracted periods of inundation have the potential of disrupting the regeneration of cypress swamp species . To explore this idea, seed banks and seedlings from Buttonland Swamp were exposed to various levels of water depth and sedimentation . In the experiment, the highest number of seedlings germinated from seed banks which were not exposed to either inundation or sediments (58 seedlings M-2) . Seed germination was very limited by even low amounts of sediment (0.01-2 cm sediment depth) . Cypress seedlings were limited more by water depth than by sedimentation . Survivorship of seedlings was reduced if overtopped by water (0% survivorship) but survived for the most part when exposed to sediment . However, if cypress seedlings were exposed to 15 cm of sediment under 10 cm of water or more, these died (0% survivorship). All experiments of seedlings conducted in the field failed either due to transplant shock or interference by raccoon . Overall these studies supported on-going studies showing that regeneration in Buttonland Swamp can only occur at the highest elevations of winter flooding . This research parallels the findings of other studies of forested wetlands with altered hydrology in the southeastern and western United States.

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