Ecology Paper - Effects of Soil Depth on Plant Species...

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Effects of Soil Depth on Plant Species Diversity in “Cedar Glades” of Middle Tennessee Edwin Gannon Middle Tennessee State University In this study, the objective was to determine if there is a correlation between plant species diversity and soil depth within the “Cedar Glades” in Murfreesboro, TN. The general hypothesis was that there will be no direct or indirect effect of soil depth on species diversity. This was tested over the course of about a month in late fall. The soil depth was measured using a long metal spike. The species richness was measured by counting the different species present within a hula-hoop at random intervals throughout the glade. Data were taken using a letter system because the experimenters were not knowledgeable in determining plant species. The results were analyzed using t-tests and the Shannon-Weiner Index. The comparison between glades confirmed that there was no statistical difference between soil depth or species diversity. However, within glade 4, significance was found between edge and interior data points for both species diversity and soil depth. Furthermore, these significances corresponded such that the greater species diversity was present at the edge, where the deeper soil was found in glade 4. It is possible that either of these results is influenced by insufficient sampling size, lack of botanical expertise, or poor climatic conditions. Introduction                                                                                                    Species diversity is a theme that is constantly found in ecological research involving the kingdom Plantae. This is phenomenon that has been studied for years. The fact that this topic has been of such interest could possibly be due to the fact that its causes are so variable. Also, the possibility of multiple factors contributing to an increase or decrease in species diversity elicits nearly endless possibilities for research opportunities. This experiment conforms to this interest as a search for a correlation between soil depth and plant species diversity within two cedar glades in
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Murfreesboro, TN. Species diversity, “primarily consists of two distinct components: the variety of species present, sometimes called the richness, and the relative abundance, sometimes called evenness, of the community” (Nordheim and Liu 53). In a similar experiment, a unimodal relationship between soil depth and species richness was found in an area containing a “limestone pavement” (Larson and Lundholm 716). This limestone surface mentioned is a feature of the cedar glades. This limestone pavement beneath, and occasionally protruding from, the soil provides the glades with a population of larger vegetation such as cedars and junipers. These glades have been described as areas with “low productivity but high species diversity” (Larson and Lundholm 717). Another
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This note was uploaded on 10/02/2011 for the course BIOLOGY 3300 taught by Professor Herlihy during the Spring '10 term at University of Tennessee.

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Ecology Paper - Effects of Soil Depth on Plant Species...

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