Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Jeffrey Hughes

Second Advisor

Nathan Sanders

Keywords

dam removal, succession, Massachusetts, species richness, riparian

Abstract

Small dam removals have become common in the United States as many have begun to lose their function and efficiency, often with the goal of improving safety and/or restoring riverine ecosystems. In 2017, American Rivers Association, Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife and, the Sturbridge Conservation Commission removed three small dams along Hamant Brook in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. The removals provided a compelling opportunity to examine how areas nearly devoid of life—the three newly exposed former impoundments—revegetate. The aim of this research was to understand how plant communities develop in these newly exposed areas and have been influenced, in composition and richness, by proximity to the abutting stream or forest edge. A total of 29 taxa were recorded at the sites; 19 of the recorded species were classified as native and six nonnative. There was no relationship between native and nonnative species richness and relation to forest or stream edge but, the results of this study provide American Rivers Association and other stakeholders with new information regarding plant regeneration and community composition following the small dam removals along Hamant Brook. The implications of this may prompt reevaluation of existing conservation plans to meet broader conservation goals.

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