Date of Award

Spring 2004

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Biological Sciences



Committee Director

Lytton Musselman

Committee Member

Rebecca D. Bray

Committee Member

William Resetarits

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.B46 B65 2004


Pocosins are depressional wetlands maintained by fire. Plants in fire adapted systems can use a variety of mechanisms for survival and recruitment. I examined the seed bank response to fire (500 to 700 °C) and wet heat treatments (50 and 75 °C) in a Virginia small depression pocosin. I quantified seedling abundance, richness, and Sphagnum density. Extant vegetation was sampled with a nested plot design at each seed bank sampling area. The seed flora was compared with the extant vegetation at three size classes with Sorenson similarity values. Data from the fire treatment indicates that a simulated drought burn may eliminate the seed bank. No significant seedling abundance, richness, or evenness effects were detectable among wet heat and control groups. Wet heat and control groups were pooled to describe the seed flora. Total seed bank density was 6,209 seedlings/m2 and richness was 11. The seed bank was dominated by Scirpus cyperinus (97.8 %), contained several early successional species, and did not closely resemble the extant vegetation. Wet heat treatments reduced the density of Sphagnum cuspidatum. Pocosin canopy was sparse and composed primarily of Pinus serotina. The shrub-sapling strata indicated co-dominance of Acer rubrum and ericaceous species, potentially indicating a shift from a shrub bog to a wet pine-hardwood community.


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