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Assessing the Influence of Physical Factors and Human-related Disturbances on Forested Wetland Communities in Georgia

Jenna Forte1,*, Christine Mutiti1, and Samuel Mutiti1

1Georgia College and State University, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Milledgeville, GA 30161.*Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 19, Issue 2 (2020): 363–379

Forested wetlands act as buffers between human civilization and aquatic ecosystems, providing numerous services. Due to widespread human influence, most existing forested wetlands are secondary forests. This study investigated 3 forested wetlands in the Oconee basin in middle Georgia to assess the influence of physical factors and anthropogenic disturbances on the tree composition. Our analyses revealed that the northernmost wetland had experienced the most recent major anthropogenic disturbance based on the dominance of an early successional species. The southernmost site, a floodplain forest, was the most diverse due to the short flooding durations that support a larger suite of species. The middle site was the least diverse but had the largest trees and total basal area.

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