Ecological Plant Surveys of Little Wabash River Nature Preserve, Indiana

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By Jordan M Marshall

Purdue University

Plot based plant survey of Little Wabash River Nature Preserve and environmental characteristics.

Version 1.0 - published on 08 Mar 2021 doi:10.4231/VHMG-GQ38 - cite this Archived on 08 Apr 2021

Licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal

Field portion of Little Wabash River Nature Preserve


Little Wabash River Nature Preserve (LWRNP) is a 14.2 ha property of important geological terrain associated with the Wisconsin glaciation age Maumee Torrent. The flow of water carved out a geographically unique passage in the landscape, the variance in terrain creating subsequent diversity of flora. The site is protected by ACRES Land Trust within the Little River watershed. To ensure a better understanding of the community structure, ecological and floristic surveys were conducted between April and October of 2019. The ecological survey consisted of 48 quadrats along 7 transects visited in May, July, and September, and included identifying understory, midstory, and overstory plant species. Additionally, we measured PAR, canopy cover, litter depth, and soil moisture in each quadrat. The floristic survey was done to catalogue all species and conducted in a non-random meander between the set transects, in order to ensure inclusion of community types and terrain gradation potentially omitted in the ecological survey. At the quadrat level, understory species richness was significantly related to the canopy cover for all three surveyed months. However, understory species diversity was related to the litter depth in May, and canopy cover in July and September. As expected for the region, swamp white oak was a dominant overstory species, especially in the lower areas of the property. Unexpected was the dominance of black walnut throughout large areas of the property – occurring in the greatest proportion of quadrats and at the greatest density. LWRNP is an excellent example of the diversity that can exist in a small, protected forest. While there are some common invasive species in need of control within the property, there are more interesting native species as well, adding diversity and interest to the community. Further management may be necessary by ACRES Land Trust to ensure continued succession dominated by native species.

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