Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 8
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


MCDOWELL, Katie L.1, GRIFFITH, Adam D.2, KINNER, David A.1, TANNER, Ben R.1 and YOUNG, Robert S.3, (1)Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, (2)Biology, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723, (3)Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723,

River cane (Arundinaria gigantea) is the only bamboo native to the U.S. and was once abundant in the southeastern states, growing on the floodplains of low-energy rivers and streams. Since European settlement, development and agriculture have fragmented the habitat of this woody grass. Along with the loss of an important riverine ecosystem, the destruction of river cane “brakes” has been a significant cultural loss for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Today, little cane remains and much is not the proper size for artisanal uses. In response to this loss, a River Cane Restoration Project has been initiated in partnership with the EBCI that will explore the biophysical controls on the modern distribution of A.gigantea and develop science-based criteria for the restoration of river cane to southeastern floodplains. A detailed, GIS-based inventory of cane brakes in western North Carolina is under development. This inventory locates and maps existing river cane patches and collects baseline data including: maximum height of the cane, culm diameter, culm density, soil characteristics, elevation, areal extent and associated species. Thus far, 45 sites have been inventoried. A typical site has culms 3-5 m tall with an average diameter of 1.5 cm and includes common species such as Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), Sycamore (Planatus occidentalis), and Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). A subset of these sites (n=30) is being sampled for soil nutrient levels (C, N, K, Ca, Na, Mg, Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, B, S, P) and sediment grain size. Preliminary findings show the relationship between these two parameters. While A. gigantea is often listed as a facultative wetland species, none of the inventoried brakes are found on histosols. Data gathered will be used to identify the ideal modern conditions producing the highest-quality river cane for use by Cherokee artisans. From these data, the biophysical parameters for target restoration sites will also be elucidated and restoration projects initiated.