Succession of the plant communities of Fakahatchee Strand ...

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Succession of the plant communities of Fakahatchee Strand ...

35DISCUSSIONFakahatchee Strand has been affected by natural and anthropogenicdisturbances including drought, hurricanes, road construction, drainage canals,logging, and fire. This study re-examined Fakahatchee’s plant communities todetermine if the Strand is returning to pre-logging conditions or if the synergy ofanthropogenic disturbances has pushed the plant communities in a newdirection. The results indicate that Fakahatchee’s plant communities arerecovering to pre-logging compositions and pop ash trees within the Strandrespond to the water levels in their environment serving as hydrologic indicators.Changes in Plant Community CompositionIn terms of species composition on a transect level, the transectsmeasured in 1989 and 2008 were not statistically different. However, transects 2and 3 did exhibit change between study years (Fig. 11). Clustering of thecollapsed transect totals showed that the decrease in red maple basal area andthe increase in cypress basal area caused the decreased similarity between1989 and 2008 on transects 2 and 3 (Appendix 6). This may be attributed to anormal pattern of successional change. Red maple and laurel oak decreased inbasal area on all transects between 1989 and 2008, with the exception oftransect 2 where no laurel oak was present. Both species are considered shortlivedtrees and red maple is sometimes classified as a subclimax species that isoften replaced in the overstory (USDA Forest Service 2009). Red maple andlaurel oak are also more likely to suffer damage from hurricane winds thancypress (Gresham, Williams, & Limpscomb 1991; Duever & McCollom 1993).

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