Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Wood Science and Technology

Committee Chair

James T. Anderson.


Local and landscape-scale factors influence peatland floristic assemblages. Our goal in this paper was to assess the interactions between wetland vegetation communities, edaphic factors, and surrounding land cover in central Appalachian peatlands. Specifically we quantified plant community dynamics in relation to edaphic factors and land cover and identified species level responses to human altered landscapes. Cluster analysis on vegetation data identified 3 vegetation groups; an emergent floristic assemblage, a shrub dominated group, and a group with mixed shrub and emergent vegetation. We found that wetlands with emergent vegetation cover were more often associated with natural land cover, higher pH and lower NH4-N. Shrub dominated floristic assemblages were associated with higher anthropogenically altered landscapes, higher pH and higher NH4-N. The mixed floristic assemblage was associated with lower pH and lower mining in the surrounding watershed. Recursive partioning results indicated edaphic factors were more influential than land cover for our three vegetation groups. The only landscape-scale factor that was used as a classifier was mining. Nutrient and pH-alkalinity gradients and to a lesser extent surrounding land cover influenced floristic assemblage. We found that vegetation did reflect changes in the landscape; however, species level response proved to be an ineffective technique for detecting the subtle changes in rural landscapes. Wetland vegetation at the community level can be an effective indicator of watershed degradation even in areas with less pronounced anthropogenic disturbance.