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Primary succession in the Quarry Bottom of the Nature Park

Adria Linda Sebisaho

introduction

The Quarry Bottom in the Nature Park was the site of an active limestone mining operation from 1917 to 1977.  The Quarry Bottom has been undergoing primary succession since the mine was abandoned in 1977.  My goal was to characterize the growth of trees in the Quarry Bottom in relation to rock piling.  

hypothesis

I hypothesized that there would be a correlation between rock piles and distribution of trees in the Quarry Bottom.

methods

I set up 25 m x 25 m plots in five areas (I through V) of the Quarry Bottom.  Within each plot, I counted the number of trees by species and counted the number of rocks by size (large, medium, small).

results

In area I, eastern red cedars were independent of rock piles and sycamores were associated with rock piles.  In area II, all trees were associated with medium/large rock piles.  In area III, eastern red cedars and sycamores were associated with rock piles.  In area IV, eastern red cedars were independent of rock piles and sycamores were associated with rock piles.  In area V, eastern red cedars and sycamores were associated with rock piles.

discussion

Formation of soil under rock piles could provide less stressful habitats for plants.  Some plant species are more stress tolerant than others.  In area II, all trees were limited to medium/large rock piles.  The location next to the quarry wall seems to provide less stressful conditions (i.e., shade, water, larger rocks).  

conclusion

Rock piles have a significant effect on vegetation succession in the Quarry Bottom.  Eastern red cedars are more stress tolerant than sycamores and cottonwoods.

references

Novak, J. and M. Konvicka.  2006.  Proximity of valuable habitat affects succession patterns in abandoned quarries.  Ecological Engineering 26:  113-122.

Walker, L., and R. Del Moral.  2003.  Primary succession and habitat rehabilitation.  Cambridge University Press.