Regeneration Failure in Overcup Oak in a Seasonally Flooded Karst Depression

Sinking Pond, a 35-hectare, seasonally flooded karst depression located on Arnold Air Force Base near Manchester, Tennessee has been recognized as a National Natural Landmark for its unique biodiversity. This forested wetland is dominated by a disjunct population of overcup oak (Quercus lyrata) that our research has shown to be exhibiting spatially restricted patterns of regeneration.  Since 1970, recruitment of seedlings to small adult size classes has been entirely limited to shallow (less than 0.5 meters) ponding depths.  Hydrologic models characterize ponding durations after 1970 as being considerably longer than historical norms, pointing to climate change as the likely factor driving the suppression of tree regeneration in the Pond.  

We are currently planning new research to address the following questions:

1)  Has tree regeneration in Sinking Pond over the last 15 years continued to be restricted to shallow (less than 0.5 meters) ponding depths?  


2)  Have ponding durations over the last 15 years continued to be longer than historical norms?


3)   Can planting of nursery established saplings grown to heights that exceed ponding depths allow for successful recruitment into areas where natural regeneration is no longer occurring?

Current Collaborators:

  • Bill Wolfe, USGS

  • Sarah McCarthy, Alma College

  • Callie Oldfield, University of Georgia



Sewanee Herbarium

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Jonathan P. Evans

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Plant Ecology & Conservation Lab

Department of Biology

University of the South

735 University Avenue

Sewanee, TN 37383

Sewanee Herbarium

Spencer Hall 171