Jacksonville, AL (PRWEB) December 20, 2013
Castanea – In an age focused on hybrid cars, solar-paneled houses, and reusable water bottles, there are giant steps being taken to save our planet, but sometimes we need to think more simplistically; we need to protect our undeveloped land and the plant and animal species that live there. In the Pine Mountain Range of Georgia, 14 plant communities, rich in botanical diversity, provide shelter for numerous species of flora and fauna.
The Pine Mountain Range in west-central Georgia is rooted in unique and diverse plant and animal species, and has great historical value. This area is where Franklin D. Roosevelt found solace during World War II, thus interweaving human and geologic history. The article “Landscape Scale Ecosystems of the Pine Mountain Range, Georgia,” in the journal Castanea, discusses the significance of the ecosystems found coexisting on this range, as well as the importance of and ways to conserve the species that live there before they disappear forever.
This mountain range includes a mixture of plant species that require all types of growth conditions. From the fire maintained longleaf pine ridge tops, to gentle slopes with scattered American chestnut and Georgia oak, to the calcium-enriched soil that houses the red buckeye plant, and even to savannah-like grasslands or moist valleys where river cane grows. The goal of the study is to identify the ecosystems in these mountains and relate them to the landscape, while also looking at the soil changes and how each soil sample supports the ecosystem. This knowledge contributed to guidelines for conservation and preservation of these lands.
By exploring the area and collecting soil and plant samples for chemical and data analysis the authors were able to group the species into communities based on their similarities and further compare their composition. The environmental and botanical information collected was then used to produce a key to the plant communities found on the Pine Mountain Range. This information allowed the authors to recommend prescribed fires on a four to six year rotation that would control the undergrowth and allow the communities room to prosper. This would ensure that biodiversity was maintained and could lead to the return of some historic animal species that abandoned their homes some time ago. The authors also suggest that the land itself, part of the Flint River Gap, become a focus of conservation efforts.
Land in the Pine Mountain Region is predominantly privately owned, with the exception of FDR State Park, Sprewell Bluff State Park, and the Little White House Historic Site, which makes creating a protected wilderness area virtually impossible. The hope is that conservationists and landowners can work together to maintain biodiversity and agree that from warm to cool springs and ridge tops to mountain valleys, the Pine Mountains speak of a unique historical and biological story.
Full text of the article, “Landscape Scale Ecosystem of the Pine Mountain Range, Georgia,” Castanea, Vol. 78, No. 4, 2013, is available at http://www.castaneajournal.org/doi/full/10.2179/13-012.
Castanea is the journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society and publishes articles relating to all aspects of botany in the entire eastern United States and adjoining areas. The Southern Appalachians—the nonglaciated mountainous areas of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and southwestern New York—form an evolutionary center for native plant diversity for the northern temperate regions of the world. The society dates to 1935 and serves all persons interested in the botany of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. The journal encourages submissions of scientific papers dealing with basic research in any field of plant biology, systematics, floristics, ecology, physiology, and biochemistry. For more information about the journal or society, please visit: http://www.sabs.appstate.edu.