Date of Award

1-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

College/School

College of Science and Mathematics

Department/Program

Biology

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Jennifer Adams Krumins

Committee Member

Dirk Vanderklein

Committee Member

Paul Bologna

Subject(s)

Riparian ecology--New Jersey--Toms River Watershed, Toms River Watershed (N.J.)--Environmental conditions

Abstract

The goal of this study was to investigate plant and soil communities along a riparian corridor at four sites in the Toms River Watershed of Ocean County, NJ. This research assessed how these communities differ between the upland and floodplain habitats by examining both biotic and abiotic factors. To accomplish this, plant communities were assessed upon tree basal area, woody shrub cover, herbaceous cover and presence/absence of “all-vegetation”. Soil microbial community composition was also measured at the same four sites. At each of the four sites, I surveyed three transects that were parallel, perpendicular and upland from the river. These transects were then classified into two habitat types; floodplain and upland. Soil samples were returned to the lab for microbial DNA fingerprinting (terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism- TRFLP). Soil chemistry samples were also taken at all four sites. Plant and fungal communities were significantly different among the four sites, however bacterial communities were not significantly different. Plant, fungal and bacterial communities were all significantly different between the floodplain and the upland habitats. Soil chemistry did not vary significantly among the sites. However, soil chemistry did vary significantly between the floodplain and upland for both soil moisture and pH. Soil moisture and pH correlated strongly with the distribution and composition of plant and microbial communities sampled in this study. Bacterial communities were unique in that they correlated with NH4 as well as pH, but did not correlate with soil moisture. Bacterial communities also did not correlate with any of the plant groups or with fungi. Fungal communities correlated with plant communities as well as soil moisture and pH. These results show that soil chemistry, particularly soil pH, correlates most often with plant and soil microbial community distribution in this study.

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