Date of Award

2014

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science

Advisor

Rodney A. Chimner

Co-Advisor

Harri Vasander

DOI

10.37099/mtu.dc.etds/877

Abstract

Northern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis L.) (NWC) swamps are valuable both commercially and ecologically. Unfortunately, many NWC swamps are degraded and information about them is not abundant. Especially there have been no definitive studies about mosses in northern white cedar swamps and how they react to disturbances. Mosses are sensitive to changes in their environment and thus they could be used to assess ecosystem conditions of NWC swamps.

The objective of this study was to determine if mosses could be used to asses conditions in NWC swamps and if there are differences between moss communities in disturbed and undisturbed sites. Seventeen sample plots were taken from 12 disturbed and undisturbed sites around upper Michigan and northern Minnesota in the summer of 2012. All mosses occurring on the plots were identified and several associated environmental parameters were measured.

The main environmental conditions affecting moss communities were identified with non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMS). Multiple response permutation procedures (MRPP) were run to ascertain if there were significant differences in community composition between disturbances. Indicator species analysis was then done to identify species that are related to different types of disturbances. A one-way ANOVA was used to check for significant differences between species richness and moss cover of undisturbed and disturbed sites.

Over all sixty-two moss species were identified. The results indicate that there was no significant difference in species richness or moss cover between disturbed and undisturbed sites. However, moss community composition was affected by disturbance and strongly divided by a wetness gradient. Dicranum fuscescens was found to indicate undisturbed conditions. Calliergon cordifolium and Climacium dendroides indicated disturbed sites with wet conditions. Brotherella recurvans and Eurhynchium pulchellum indicated swamps with other disturbances.

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