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Wednesday, April 11 • 1:45pm - 2:00pm
HABITAT FRAGMENTATION/CONNECTIVITY: Shifts in Plant Species Composition Along a Utility Right-of-way

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AUTHORS: Damilola Eyitayo*, Brian C. McCarthy – Ohio University

ABSTRACT: Habitat modification remains one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and achievement of conservation goals require an understanding of how pervasive forms of landscape modification such as utility right-of-way impact plant communities. While most studies on habitat modification have focused on animal species, particularly insects and birds, fewer studies have investigated this topic with respect to plants. In this study, I investigated the impact of utility right-of-way on plant community composition and how changes in environmental variables account for differences in species composition. By sampling vegetation along a 14-km electricity transmission right-of-way in Zaleski State Forest and in an old-field, data on plant species composition and abiotic variables such as soil pH, litter depth, organic matter content and topographic position were collected based on stratified sampling techniques. The utility right-of-way corridor had greater diversity of plant species than adjacent forest and edge habitat areas, while open areas in the old-field were dominated by a few herbaceous species. Differences in species richness between powerline corridors and open old-field areas may be due to disturbance frequency and type of management regime of these areas. In addition, site variables such as aspect and soil organic matter were significant predictors of species richness. These results support a growing sense that powerline corridors can be considered novel habitats, that if properly managed could help achieve biodiversity goals.

Wednesday April 11, 2018 1:45pm - 2:00pm CDT
Hancock Parlor

Attendees (7)