Paper No. 9-27
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
USING THE PAST TO GUIDE THE FUTURE: RECONSTRUCTING THE ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY OF FINZEL SWAMP FROM MULTI-PROXY DATA FOR FUTURE MANAGEMENT
Finzel Swamp located in Western Maryland is situated within a frost pocket and is described as a remnant boreal fen from the Pleistocene Epoch. The lower temperatures create a cold climate refugia resulting in distinct biodiversity, which is being actively managed by the Nature Conservancy. Vegetation reconstructions via palynology have been undertaken in the Appalachians but have not been applied to Finzel Swamp. A multi-proxy approach was employed to reconstruct vegetation histories and develop a chronology to examine changes through time. Five 1 m sediment cores were extracted, and plant macro fossils were used for radiocarbon dating, resulting in a basal date of 10,910 BP. Pollen samples were taken at 5mm intervals from targeted areas of the cores. The vegetation history suggests early dominance by pine and sedges with establishment of a more extensive range of mixed deciduous woodland, including oak, beech, and sweet chestnut from circa 7100 BP, before returning to pine dominance. The vegetation succession of Finzel Swamp has evolved under different climatic conditions, yet the cold air drainage has been tentatively interpreted as a dominant factor for vegetation type, although the role of fen hydrology cannot be diminished and requires further investigation. Yet Finzel swamp serves as a unique lens into the past vegetation history of the central Appalachians, which is critical to understand to allow for sensible planning of landscape resource management in the future.