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Big Walnut Creek riparian forest: investigating soil quality and tree species composition

Brittany Mohrman, Tory Pavlovich, Brett Bohlander

Class project for Conservation Biology, BIO 345, spring 2006

Brittany Mohrman, measuring one of the trees
in the riparian forest alongside Big Walnut Creek.

The purpose of this project was to characterize and compare soil quality and tree species in sectors of riparian forest along Big Walnut Creek.  We set up a linear gradient of plots along the creek. In each plot, we collected soil samples and measured phosphorus and nitrogen levels, pH, and moisture content. Within an 11.3 m radius of each plot, we counted the number of trees by species and measured circumference of each tree. We identified three sectors along the linear gradient: A, B, and C. Soil moisture levels were similar among the three sectors. pH was significantly lower in Sector C than the other sectors. Nutrient levels were low along the entire gradient. Tree species diversity was higher in Sectors B and C. Different forest compositions led to the conclusion that Sector C is a healthier area with less signs of degradation.  Our results are significant because they provide baseline data on the riparian forest and provide a foundation for the future.  Also, our data show significant differences in soil composition and tree composition between the sectors possibly from differences in degradation.

Click here to download:Brittany Mohrman's presentation (9.8 MB)

This photo of Tory Pavlovich (in the foreground) gives
a good idea about the nature of the riparian forest.