Master's Thesis submitted 1998

Characterization of Soil Development in a Created Small Stream Swamp in Eastern North Carolina

Julie Fontaine

Soil chemical, physical, and morphological properties were compared in a five year old created wetland to a Coastal Plain small stream swamp. The objective was to determine if the upland mineral soil used in the wetland construction now functions as the natural target wetland. The created wetland soils were compared using twenty-five different physical and chemical parameters to the natural wetlands, as well as to upland and stockpiled topsoil mounds, and several unreclaimed areas. Only nitrate and magnesium levels were found to be the same in the created and natural wetlands for one or both horizons. Nutrient levels (C, N, P, K, Na, Zn), cation exchange capacity, and clay content in the natural wetland were found to be significantly (p < .05) higher than in the created. Natural wetland soil pH, percent base saturation, copper, manganese, and C:N ratios were significantly (p < .05) lower than in the created wetland. The original upland mineral soil was found to be the same as the created wetland for 12 of the parameters examined. The unreclaimed exposed subsurface sites had low nutrient levels, and physical conditions were not conducive to plant growth. Five years after wetland creation, the soils still retain their upland characteristics. Hydric status was met based on reducing conditions and hydrology, but the soils still do not resemble those of the target wetland for the properties examined.