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Ecological Integrity of Wetland Soils Validation of a Perturbation Index in Northern Mississippi Wetlands
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Project Statement:

Recognition of the need to incorporate ecological science into policy management decisions affecting sustainable life support resources led to the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative (SBI) in the early 1990s. Global change, biological diversity, and sustainable ecosystems were the research cornerstones around which SBI research was founded. A more focused agenda, the Freshwater Imperative Research (FWI), arose from SBI to deal strictly with freshwater issues affecting watershed management practices and water resource maintenance. A need to scientifically evaluate ecosystem stress/"resilience" led to the creation of various indices, among which the Index of Biotic Integrity (IBI) has proven to be one of the most useful and accurate. Smith (1997) proposed a "perturbation" index based on Virginia/North Carolina soil studies to determine the resilience of wetland soils to rebound from clear-cut timber harvesting. The current study proposes comparing the Mid-Atlantic wetland soil biogeochemical properties and perturbation index with wetland soils of northern Mississippi's Yazoo basin. First year objectives will be to locate, sample, and document appropriate wetland reference soils in the Yazoo basin watershed. Second and third year objectives will evaluate perturbations in wetland soils caused by clear-cut timber harvesting and other agricultural practices. This project encompasses the research for a Master of Science degree for Jill A. Balducci in the Department of Biology, University of Mississippi, and is sponsored by the Wetland Science Institute of USDA?s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Collaborators include; Drs. Marjorie Holland, William Benson, and Greg Easson of the University of Mississippi Department of Biology, Research Institute of Pharmacological Science, and Geology and Geological Engineering Departments respectively, and Dr. Charles Cooper of the USDA?s National Sedimentation Laboratory.

Dr. Marjorie Holland is the lead collaborator of this project.

Progress Statement:

Reference soils in timber harvested and Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) sites have been selected and sampled (November 1997).