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Individual Highlight

Impacts of Different Management and Disturbance Histories on the Hydrology of Atlantic Coastal Plain Forests

Photo of Image of Santee Experimental Forest (red line), overlain on the USGS 2006 Berkeley County, SC aerial photo, where multiple ecohydrologic studies have been conducted using long-term data from naturally drained freshwater forested wetland watersheds of varying scales (WS77, WS79, and WS80) located on South Carolina Atlantic Coastal Plain. Inset photo shows a typical forest stand on WS80.
Image of Santee Experimental Forest (red line), overlain on the USGS 2006 Berkeley County, SC aerial photo, where multiple ecohydrologic studies have been conducted using long-term data from naturally drained freshwater forested wetland watersheds of varying scales (WS77, WS79, and WS80) located on South Carolina Atlantic Coastal Plain. Inset photo shows a typical forest stand on WS80. Snapshot : Shallow water tables respond rapidly to rainfall and evapotranspiration, making runoff in coastal forests highly variable. However, new SRS research on two very different forests found that they had similar runoff responses to extreme climatic events. Long-term monitoring is key to understanding how climate and vegetation management affect runoff.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Amatya, Devendra M.  
Research Location : USDA Forest Service Santee Experimental Forest, Cordesville, SC; Francis Marion National Forest, District 1; Weyerhauser Forest and Water Management Study site, Carteret County, NC
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2020
Highlight ID : 1708

Summary

This research compared long-term hydrology on two Atlantic Coastal Plain sites: a naturally drained forest in South Carolina that is managed only for restoration and relatively undisturbed (except for Hurricane Hugo in 1989); and a drained pine plantation in North Carolina managed for silvicultural production. Both sites are on shallow, high water table soils and in areas where demand for developed land is growing. The researchers used monitoring and modeling approaches to highlight differences in the water table and water balance between these two different forests. The researchers also investigated their resiliency after natural and human-caused disturbances, along with the importance of long-term monitoring and effects of regeneration on flow regime. Results from these coastal freshwater systems can provide a baseline for restoring longleaf pine; evaluating effects of increasing land use change on intensive silviculture, urbanization, or bioenergy; extreme events; and sea-level rise impacts on groundwater and runoff that threaten habitat, wetlands, and stormwater management.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • Carl C. Trettin, Southern Research Station
  • Jami E. Nettles - Weyerhauser
  • R. Wayne Skaggs - North Carolina State University
  • Thomas M. Williams - Clemson University