Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Joe Winstead, Gary Dillard, Kenneth Nicely

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Plant growth and development during the growing season of 1985 were examined on a strip mine located in Butler County, Kentucky, abandoned in 1963. Analysis included field plot measures of the frequency, density, and percent cover of the established plant species and determination of biomass accumulation during the 1985 year. Experimental subplots were established in both field and laboratory settings and the growth of the herbaceous colonizers compared under natural and programmed growth chamber conditions. Microclimatic measures of temperature and solar insolation were conducted in the field along with soil texture and pH measures. Results indicate that in the early successional communities sampled in Butler County, Pinus virginiana Mill., Elaeagnus angustifolia L. and Nyssa sylvatica Marsh. are the most important tree species. Important forbs include Lechea tenuifolia Michx., Bidens polylepis Blake, Lespedeza striata (Thunb.) H. & A. and Polygonum pensylvanicum L. Danthoniasp. and Festuca sp. are the two most important grasses. Biomass production during the first quarter of the growing season accounted for approximately two-thirds of the annual biomass accumulation. The data indicate that biomass production may be limited more by the harsh climatic conditions than by the sterile edaphic conditions present on the abandoned strip mine.


Biology | Life Sciences | Plant Sciences