Date of Award

Summer 8-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Taylor M. Sloey

Committee Member

Lisa Wallace

Committee Member

Eric Walters


Forested freshwater wetlands are valuable ecosystems that provide habitat for numerous species, sequester carbon, and act as sinks for excess water and nutrients. Historically, these ecosystems have been heavily degraded by anthropogenic activities leading to loss of ecosystem services and a desire to restore freshwater forested wetland habitat. Thus, science-backed approaches for the restoration of freshwater forested wetlands are necessary to ensure restoration goals are met. This body of research employed the Stress Gradient Hypothesis to test whether a multi-species planting approach using Juncus effusus (L.) (soft rush) could facilitate the survival of Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. (bald cypress) seedlings under varying levels of light and flooding exposure. This research was composed of a greenhouse experiment and an observational field study that characterized bald cypress growth and plant interspecific interactions under varying abiotic gradients both ex situ and in situ respectively. The results of the greenhouse experiment showed that soft rush did not facilitate the growth of bald cypress under any tested environmental condition tested. Further, the field study revealed that although bald cypress seedlings frequently co-occur with graminoid species, bald cypress seedling establishment was greater when surrounding vegetation cover and species richness were lower. These studies emphasize the role of light and elevation as important indicators for predicting where bald cypress seedlings will establish. Further, these results demonstrate the importance of considering both abiotic and biotic factors in the restoration of bald cypress.


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