Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Joe Winstead, Kenneth Nicely, Herbert Shadowen

Degree Program

Department of Biology

Degree Type

Master of Science


Rock Creek Gorge in Rock Creek Natural Landmark in Laurel County, Kentucky is a deep narrow gorge dominated by Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr., Oxydendrum arboreum (L.) DC., Betula lenta L. and Liriodendron tulipifera L. Rhododendron maximum L., dominating the understory, is also an important constituent of the gorge. An analysis of the forest composition showed the community to be stable and climax. The dominant species were found in sapling and seedling size classes. The vegetation varied slightly between the east facing and west facing slopes. Hemlock did not attain as high an importance value on the west facing slope, although it was still dominant. Soil tests showed the soil to be sandy and acidic. This virgin forest has a unique composition, not found in any other area of Kentucky. The unique composition was compared to areas with similar vegetational patterns and also to previous smaller studies of Rock Creek.


Biology | Botany | Life Sciences | Plant Sciences