Year of Publication

2022

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest and Natural Resource Sciences (MSFNRS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Agriculture, Food and Environment

Department/School/Program

Forestry and Natural Resources

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Barton

Abstract

Red spruce (Picea rubens) is the keystone species of the red spruce-northern hardwood forest, a unique high-elevation plant community that supports hundreds of animal species in the Central Appalachians. These forests were devastated by the Industrial Logging Era of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and they remain in a degraded and fragmented state. Current restoration efforts include red spruce plantings on old field sites and reclaimed coal mines. This project seeks to aid those efforts by evaluating restoration outcomes for vegetation and soils along a ten-year chronosequence. Specifically, the study aims to determine whether restoration site soils and vegetation are trending towards reference conditions, and how those trends vary between old field and reclaimed mine planting sites. Analysis revealed several promising trends in vegetation and soils. Additionally, red spruce planted on mined lands perform as well or better than those planted on old fields, owing in part to greater availability of soil nutrients on reclaimed surface mines.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2022.84

Funding Information

This study was supported by the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center's 2021 Eller and Billings Student Research Award.

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