Date of Award

1999

Degree Name

Biological Sciences

College

College of Science

Type of Degree

M.S.

Document Type

Thesis

First Advisor

Jeffrey D. May

Second Advisor

Dan K. Evans

Abstract

This study was conducted as an analysis of vegetation in and around four ponds at McClintic Wildlife Management Area (MWMA), located in Mason County, West Virginia. The MWMA is the former West Virginia Ordnance Works (WVOW), having served as a trinitrotoluene (TNT) manufacturing site from 1941-1946. Such history presents the area with unique conditions resulting in diverse types and amounts of plants, since any type of forest disturbance, regardless of cause, alters ecosystem functions. This project was originally designed as part of a groundwater pump-and-treat plan for MWMA, where potential impacts of groundwater removal to ponds and the associated plant communities would be assessed over two growing seasons. However, shortly after being initiated, the extraction was terminated. Vegetation studies were continued for the planned time in order to serve as comparative analysis should a similar project be reinitiated. The objectives of this study were: (1) to characterize plant communities in and around selected holding ponds, through monthly sampling over two consecutive growing seasons (2) to compare vegetation among different pond sites (3) to assess vegetation changes between sampling years within each pond site; and (4) to provide baseline data of plant communities for use in future research. Four plant strata-trees, shrubs, herbaceous, and aquatic vegetation- were sampled; monthly sampling was performed from June-November 1997 and April­-October 1998 in plant communities in and around the selected sites for all growth strata except trees, which were sampled once per year. Plants were sampled at each pond site by ( 1) two 100m2 plots for trees; (2) four 25m2 plots for shrubs; and (3) six 1 m2 plots for herbaceous and aquatic vegetation. For data analysis, importance values were calculated and used to run separate detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) for each growth stratum. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used for seasonal patterns of dominant herbaceous and aquatic vegetation, and to compare significant differences among mean cover values for aquatic and herbaceous species. A total of 72 species in 37 families were sampled over the course of the study. Many of the same species occurred in the tree, shrub, and herbaceous communities. Most species found at a pond site during one year were present the other year, though some changes in species occurred in all strata. DCA showed that while some changes in importance of species occurred between 1997 and 1998, such changes were not substantial. Species in the shrub stratum showed the smallest amount of variability between years. Aquatic species showed more noticeable differences between pond sites, possibly due to differences in pond water levels or nutrient content. Pond 4 had some species not found at other pond sites, presumably due to swampy conditions of that area. These included Sphagnum sp., flex 1nontana T. & C., Rhus vernix L., and Osmunda cinnamomea L. The top two species in each stratum (for all pond sites) were as follows: Acer rubrum L. and Nyssa sylvatica Marsh. for trees; Elaeagnus umbellata Thunb. and Carya ovata (Mill.) K. Koche for shrubs; Lonicera japonica Thunb. and Panicunm sp. for herbs; and Ceratophyllum demersum L. and Lemna minor L. for aquatic vegetation. Distribution of these species varied among pond sites. More than 60% of plant species in all growth strata had defined wetland status. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of shrubs and herbs, 80% of trees, and 91o/o of aquatic species were classified as facultative, facultative upland, facultative wetland, or obligate wetland species. Without previous vegetation documentation, it is difficult to assess the extent that establishment of WVOW had on plant species composition at MWMA. However, it is possible that many species currently present at the site were present prior to establishment of the manufacturing plant. Future research should be performed, using results from this thesis as baseline data, because a two-year sampling period of the area is not enough to draw definitive conclusions about MWMA.

Subject(s)

McClintic Wildlife Management Area (Mason County, W. Va.)

Ponds - Botany - West Virginia.

Plant communities.

Vegetation dynamics.

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