Plant and Soil Responses to Created Microtopography and Soil Treatments in Bottomland Hardwood Forest Restoration

Matthew E. Simmons, X. Ben Wu, Steven G. Whisenant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Although microtopographic heterogeneity is common in bottomland hardwood forests, it is rarely considered in bottomland restoration efforts. The objective of this study was to determine the responses of hydrologic condition, soil physiochemical properties, and introduced and colonizing vegetation to created microtopography and soil treatments at a landfill borrow pit in northern Texas. A series of mounds and pools were created and planted with fast-growing pioneer species as well as more desirable, later-successional species. Erosion control mats were installed on half the plots as a source of organic matter. Erosion control mats had little influence on introduced seedling survival or colonizing species abundance, but microtopography strongly influenced hydrologic condition, soil properties, seedling survival and growth, and colonizing species abundance and distribution. Pools were flooded during much of the summer months and had significantly higher nitrate and total nitrogen concentrations than mounds. Topographic position had little effect on survival of pioneer species, but mortality of most later-successional species was highest in pools. Colonizing species distribution and abundance were also strongly related to topographic position. Despite differences in soil nutrient concentration among topographic zones, hydrologic condition likely had the strongest influence on growth and survival of planted species and distribution of colonizing species. Creating microtopography resulted in a spatially heterogeneous system that reflected variations in natural bottomlands, and introducing a mix of species (pioneer and later-successional) across topographic and hydrologic gradients may improve the establishment and survival of a diverse community when hydrologic condition is highly variable or difficult to predict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)136-146
Number of pages11
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Borrow pit
  • Erosion control mat
  • Hydrology
  • Soil properties
  • Spatial heterogeneity
  • Wetland


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