The target area of research was found to be mixed-mesophytic
forest, determined by tree pair analysis. Significant new growth in the
understory, included many beech saplings, indicates maturation toward a
climax community. The maturity of the forest was also indicated by several
environmental factors. Light intensity and wind velocity were typical of
the successional stage between immature and mature forest (Kircher and
Morrison). Air temperature in this area was lower and the relative humidity
was considerably higher than surrounding areas.
Shrub and herb plots, as well as fauna sampling displayed several individual species which indicated a relatively healthy level of biodiversity.
Data obtained from water sampling were consistent with normal levels in all catagories, except dissolved oxygen. Test results indicate elevated levels (Art). Elevated levels of dissolved oxygen can indicate agricultural run-off, typically accompanied by elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus and acidic pH. Data analyzed discount the likelihood of agricultural run-off being the cause of the elevated dissolved oxygen levels. The most likely source of increased D.O. is organic decomposition. Several fallen trees were observed throughout the tributary, all hosting extensive fungal communities.
Soil tests resulted in expected levels of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and pH. NPK levels were expected to be low due to the lack of agricultural activity in the area. Nitrogen levels were also expected to be low due to the of legumes near the stream. pH was expected to be near neutral due to the lack of coniferous vegetation and granitic bedrock. The abundance of broadleaf species helps to neutralize the surrounding soil as well.
While this analysis seems to indicate that the Maple Creek tributary is currently healthy and moving towards overall maturation, the researchers suggest that future analysis of this area should note the advance of invasive species such as amur honeysuckle, multiflora rose and garlic mustard. The effects of construction and increased traffic should also be monitored in the future.