University of Louisville

Poster Title

An Assessment of the Microclimatic and Pedological Conditions of Rock Shelters Containing Solidgao albopilosa, Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Institution

University of Louisville

Abstract

Very little is known about the microclimatic and pedological conditions present in the rock shelters of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in which the threatened species Solidago albopilosa is endemic. To address this issue we recorded and analyzed several microclimatic and pedological variables within the rock shelters to determine if any were significantly different from the surrounding environment. An estimation of the future viability of the shelters for sustaining S. albopilosa was also undertaken based on current plant distribution and recreational impacts at each site. Significant differences were found between the inside of the rock shelters and the surrounding environment with regards to relative humidity, air temperature, and luminance, suggesting that S. albopilosa prefers cooler, more humid environments which receive less sunlight. The distribution of the shelter aspects further suggest that S. albopilosa prefers Easterly or Northerly facing shelters that receive minimal direct sunlight. No significant differences were found among the surface soil pH and macronutrients that we tested, although evidence of recreational activity affecting site viability was present at most sites. However, a more complete analysis of the soil nutrients in the rock shelters and surrounding soils is suggested to build on this research.

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An Assessment of the Microclimatic and Pedological Conditions of Rock Shelters Containing Solidgao albopilosa, Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Very little is known about the microclimatic and pedological conditions present in the rock shelters of Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in which the threatened species Solidago albopilosa is endemic. To address this issue we recorded and analyzed several microclimatic and pedological variables within the rock shelters to determine if any were significantly different from the surrounding environment. An estimation of the future viability of the shelters for sustaining S. albopilosa was also undertaken based on current plant distribution and recreational impacts at each site. Significant differences were found between the inside of the rock shelters and the surrounding environment with regards to relative humidity, air temperature, and luminance, suggesting that S. albopilosa prefers cooler, more humid environments which receive less sunlight. The distribution of the shelter aspects further suggest that S. albopilosa prefers Easterly or Northerly facing shelters that receive minimal direct sunlight. No significant differences were found among the surface soil pH and macronutrients that we tested, although evidence of recreational activity affecting site viability was present at most sites. However, a more complete analysis of the soil nutrients in the rock shelters and surrounding soils is suggested to build on this research.