Spatial Impacts of Stream and Wetland Restoration on Riparian Soil Properties in the North Carolina Piedmont

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Hydric soil development of riparian wetlands is primarily influenced by the hydrologic connection between the floodplains and the stream channel. Often, the goal of riparian restoration is to revitalize this connectivity through a restructuring of the stream channel and the floodplain; however, the effects of this restructuring on the physical and spatial characteristics of soil properties are rarely considered. The objective of this study was to quantify the impacts of restoration efforts on the spatial characteristics of soil properties by means of a pre- and post-restoration comparison. We determined that the spatial patterns of soil organic matter (SOM) and exchangeable phosphorus (P ex ) appeared less variable in the years following restoration than in the years before restoration. Mean SOM significantly decreased after restoration, whereas mean P ex significantly increased. The spatial characteristics and mean concentrations of NO 2 -NO 3 did not differ much between sampling dates. The loss of this spatial patterning in SOM and P ex and the decrease in SOM pools may represent negative impacts of restoration on important ecosystem characteristics. This study demonstrates that soil properties and spatial patterns can be negatively affected by restoration activities potentially hindering ecosystem development and function. © 2010 Society for Ecological Restoration International.






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Unghire, JM, AE Sutton Grier, NE Flanagan and CJ Richardson (2011). Spatial Impacts of Stream and Wetland Restoration on Riparian Soil Properties in the North Carolina Piedmont. Restoration Ecology, 19(6). pp. 738–746. 10.1111/j.1526-100X.2010.00726.x Retrieved from

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Neal Flanagan

Visiting Assistant Professor

Curtis J. Richardson

Research Professor of Resource Ecology in the Division of Environmental Science and Policy

Curtis J. Richardson is Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Richardson earned his degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee.

His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions. He has specific interests in phosphorus nutrient dynamics in wetlands and the effects of environmental stress on plant communities and ecosystem functions and services. The objectives of his research are to utilize ecological principles to develop new approaches to environmental problem solving. The goal of his research is to provide predictive models and approaches to aid in the management of ecosystems.

Recent research activities: 1) wetland restoration of plant communities and its effects on regional water quality and nutrient biogeochemical cycles, 2) the development of ecosystem metrics as indices of wetland restoration success, 3) the effects of nanomaterial on wetland and stream ecosystem processes, 4) the development of ecological thresholds along environmental gradients, 5) wetland development trends and restoration in coastal southeastern United States, 6) the development of an outdoor wetland and stream research and teaching laboratory on Duke Forest, 7) differential nutrient limitation (DNL) as a mechanism to overcome N or P limitations across trophic levels in wetland ecosystems, and 8) carbon sequestration in coastal North Carolina pocosins.

Richardson oversees the main analytical lab in NSOE, which is open to students and faculty. Dr. Richardson has been listed in Who's Who in Science™ annually since 1989 and was elected President of the Society of Wetland Scientists in 1987-88. He has served on many editorial review committees for peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he is a past Chair of the Nicholas School Division of Environmental Sciences and Policy. Dr. Richardson is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Soil Science Society of America.

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