Health of sycamore trees
Zachary Young, Sarah Minor, and Hunter Schouweiler
Ecology class, BIO 342, Biology Department, DePauw University
Fall semester 2010
Sycamore trees are frequently found in riparian and wetland areas, and are moderately tolerant of flooding. We compared the health of sycamore trees in flooded zones and on rock piles in the Quarry Bottom.
We hypothesized that sycamore trees growing in the flood zone would have lower health scores due to anoxic conditions, and that sycamore trees on growing on rock piles would have higher health scores due to higher nutrient availability.
We measured sycamore trees in three areas of the Quarry Bottom: (1) "in the flood zone" was defined as areas that were at one point covered with water; we looked for biofilm and dried-out mud as evidence of past flooding; (2) "near the flood zone" was defined as areas within 4 meters of a floodplain or a rock pile, where some sides of the rock pile were touching a flooded area and (3) "far from flood zone" was defined as areas more than 4 meters from a floodplain with no sign of past flooding. In each location, we measured tree height, type of soil (mud, rock pile, or base of rock pile), and health of the tree. We measured health of the tree using these criteria: 0 = no foliage, tree is dried or withered, trunk is deformed, no flaking bark; 1 = minimal foliage, trunk is deformed, no flaking bark; 2 = about half of tree has leaves, trunk is not deformed, little to no flaking bark; 3 = about three-quarters of tree has leaves, leaves are good quality, trunk is healthy with flaking bark; and 4 = near full foliage, leaves are good quality, trunk is healthy with flaking bark.
Our results showed that sycamore trees in areas near flood zones and trees on rock piles had higher health scores. Sycamore trees in the flood zone had the lowest health scores.
Sycamore trees in the flood zone may have lower health scores because of anoxic soil conditions, reduced root growth, and increased sedimentation. Sycamore trees near the flood zone may have higher health scores because sycamores are adapted to survive near flooded areas.