Current Research

Hydrologic Alterations and Bottomland Hardwoods of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley

Evaluation of the effects of hydrologic alterations on bottomland hardwood regeneration processes—Bottomland hardwood forests are located along floodplains throughout the southeastern United States, with the greatest concentration in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV). These wetland forests are cornerstone of conservation for a wide variety of species in the MAV including waterfowl, black bear, and songbirds. These sites have been greatly affected, however, by hydrologic alterations that have reduced, eliminated, or shifted the timing and duration of flooding in these systems. Our past research has shown that forest composition and tree growth have been affected by these changes. The pressure for water continues to increase in this region. Currently, the Mississippi Alluvial Aquifer is one of the two most depleted aquifers in the U.S. and it is affecting the volume of streamflow in some rivers. We need a quantitative, process-level understanding of water needs in these forests to sustain their productivity and the associated forest and wetland-dependent wildlife. Whitney Kroschel, a Ph.D. student, is currently working on this project at several wildlife management areas in north Louisiana. I am also working with two hydrologists, Dr. Richard Keim and his Ph.D. student, Mary Grace Lemon. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Lower Mississippi River Valley Joint Venture are providing funding for this project.

Effects of Habitat Heterogeneity on Nesting Waterbirds

This study will be initiated in March 2017. Rabbit Island, located near Cameron Louisiana, has several nesting birds that are rare to Louisiana. It is scheduled for restoration sometime after September 2017. Specifically, they will raise the elevation of the island to reduce flooding and potential nest losses due to flooding. We will be evaluating nest success and nest densities in varies habitats, particularly as they relate to flooding processes. We would like to identify optimal elevations for each group of species to help guide restoration efforts in the future. Karis Ritenour is an M.S. student that will be working on the project.

revised: 23-Apr-2018