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Editor's Notes

Hongli Yang is a graduate student in the Geosciences department at Murray State. She will receive her MS in Geology/Earth Science in May 2017. This research was done with her mentor, Dr. Robin Zhang.

She would like to thank Mammoth Cave National Park for the support, particularly Rick Olson, Lillian Scoggins, Rick Toomey, and Shannon Trimboli. The Watershed Studies Institute at Murray State University provided partial funding for the project, along with the Provost's Office.

Abstract

Vegetation habitat mapping can be regarded as a model predicting the geographic distribution of plant cover types from mapped environmental variables. This paper discusses three environmental factors- slope, aspect and bedrock geology that determined different habitat types in Mammoth Cave National Park. The variation of aspect and slope can largely determine the amount of solar radiation and water available to vegetation, which influences the contrasting habitat types formed in a long term. Bedrock geology, one of the most influential factor in the study area, primarily controls the soil types and drainage conditions that support the various habitat types. The habitat model indicated that Acid and Calcareous are the two dominant habitat categories within the Park, which accounted for 46.24% and 49.74% of the total area respectively. The result shows that Calcareous habitats are dispersed throughout the park over limestone bedrock while the most xeric Calcareous habitats are found in the southeast part of the Park. In addition, Acid Xeric and Acid Sub-Xeric habitats are mostly located in the northwest region of the park while the shaded region in the southeast formed mostly Acid Mesic habitat. Calcareous Sub-Mesic habits are moderate mesic habitats over limestone cap-rock. The vegetation habitat modeling result provides critical information for Park’s fire management, for classification of fuel types and for delineation of fire management units.

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