Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Earth and Ocean Sciences

Sub-Department

College of Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

John B. Nelson

Abstract

Wetland habitats are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, varying in both physical and biological characteristics. Geographically isolated wetlands are particularly important to the landscape due to their role in the hydrological cycle and as local centers for biodiversity. In parts of the coastal plain of South Carolina, there are geographically isolated wetlands found in concentrated groups with distinctive size, shape, and distribution. Despite their unique appearance and distribution, these wetlands have been scarcely researched or investigated. This project seeks to explore the plant communities that are contained within these ponds in order to understand their composition and to compare them to existing community classifications. The study area lies within a plot of managed pine forest and focuses on sixteen ponds within an area of about 1.5 square miles. The small scale and proximity of the study allows for ponds to be compared individually rather than throughout their entire range. Using a plotless sampling method, this study gathers data that is used to determine species composition and various measures of diversity. This information is then used to describe the vegetative composition of the ponds, explore the variability between individual ponds, and attempt to determine the appropriate community classification of the ponds. It is hoped that this project will prove useful to expanding knowledge on the natural environment and informing management decisions regarding the protection of these rapidly disappearing natural areas.

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