Lowland Woods and
The St. Anne Woods and Wetlands Research and Education Center is situated along the western border of Melbourne, Kentucky. The lowland portion of the site is bounded by the Ohio River on the north and Kentucky Route 8 on the south. The earthen fill of an east-west railroad right-of-way divides the property into north and south sections.
Permission is required to enter the
fenced north section. The 14.8-hectare area holds forest and
meadow wetlands, in addition to an Ohio River floodplain
forest typical of the region’s stream bottomlands (Hedeen
2006). The floodplain forest is comprised of trees that can
tolerate frequent flooding, saturated soil, and reduced soil
silver maple (Acer saccharinum), cottonwood (Populus
deltoides), sycamore (Platanus occidentalis),
American elm (Ulmus americana), and black willow (Salix
nigra). A population of beaver (Castor canadensis)
inhabits burrows in the riverbank, as reflected by gnaw
marks on many of the floodplain trees. The ponds in this
area were restored in September 2012; photos of the
restoration can be seen here.
The unfenced, 21.7-hectare south section
supports a forested wetland as well as a tree-planted meadow
slope bordering Kentucky Route 8. A signed nature trail loop
through the south section is accessed from a parking area
along Anderson Lane. The trail is open to the public during
daylight hours (foot traffic only).
The forested wetlands in both the north
and south sections occupy poorly drained depressions on a
broad terrace elevated 10.7 m above the normal level of the
Ohio River. The depressions are water-filled during wet
seasons and following exceptionally high Ohio River floods.
Braun (1916) found the site’s forested depressions to be
occupied by trees of different ages and sizes ranging from
“several inches to a few feet in diameter, some of the pin
oaks being exceptionally large.”
In 1981, Bryant (1987) sampled trees of
at least 10 cm diameter-at-breast-height in 0.07-hectare
circular plots randomly spaced throughout the wetland forest
of the south section. Of 416 trees recorded, pin oak (Quercus
palustris) was the dominant species, followed by red
maple (Acer rubrum), ash (Fraxinus americana
and F. pennsylvanica), elm (Ulmus americana and
U. rubra), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera),
boxelder (Acer negundo), black cherry (Prunus
serotina), hackberry (Celtis occidentalis),
black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), sycamore (Platanus
occidentalis), swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor),
sassafras (Sassafras albidum), beech (Fagus
grandifolia), honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos),
and hickory (Carya sp.).
Bryant and Held (2004) classified the
site as an old-growth Pin Oak-Red Maple forest. They
identified Pin Oak-Red Maple and floodplain forests as the
two wettest of the eight woodland types occurring in the
Northern Kentucky/Southwest Ohio region. Bryant (unpublished
data) re-sampled the Pin Oak-Red Maple forest of the south
section in 2007. Of 295 trees recorded, pin oak remained
dominant, followed by red maple, ash, elm, boxelder,
cottonwood, tulip poplar, silver maple, black cherry,
hackberry, sycamore, black locust, beech, and Amur
honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii). The tree density per
hectare fell from 396 in 1981 to 331 in 2007, perhaps due to
post-1981 logging activity.
In this same area, Boyce (2012) sampled in a mature stand and a developing forest. Densities ranged from 267 to 817 trees per hectare. Basal area ranged from 38 to 42 square meters per hectare. Tree species found included boxelder, paw-paw, shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), hackberry, flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) beech, ash, tulip poplar, black cherry, pin oak, sassafras, and elm. The analysis indicated that the beech population was slowly declining, tulip poplar was not longer replacing itself, and hackberry appeared to be maintaining a stable population level.
Amphibians constitute the vertebrate class best adapted to seasonal wetland environments. Krusling and Ferner (1993) collected six species from St. Anne Woods and Wetlands: green frog (Rana clamitans), spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer), American toad (Bufo americanus), ravine salamander (Plethodon richmondi), Jefferson’s salamander (Ambystoma jeffersonianum), and streamside salamander (Ambystoma barbouri). Krusling and Ferner concluded that the diverse amphibian community of the site places St. Anne Wetlands among the high priority preservation sites in Northern Kentucky. However, Boyce et al. (2012) found that the invasive shrub Amur honeysuckle is increasing stand transpiration by an amount equivalent to 10% of the stream flow from the area, which may be shortening the period of the seasonal ponds in which these species breed.
Boyce, R.L. 2012. Size structure of Fagus
grandifolia, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Celtis
occidentalis populations in a wetland forest in
Campbell County, Kentucky. Journal of the Kentucky Academy
of Sciences 73:83-89.
Boyce, R.L., R.D. Durtsche and S.L Fugal.
2012. Impact of the invasive shrub Lonicera maackii
transpiration and ecosystem hydrology in a wetland forest. Biological Invasions 14:671-680.
Braun, E.L. 1916. The physiographic ecology of the Cincinnati region. Ohio Biological Survey Bulletin 7.
Bryant, W.S. 1987. Structure and composition of the old-growth forests of Hamilton County, Ohio and environs. In Proceedings of the Central Hardwood Forest Conference VI. Pages 317-324.
Bryant, W.S. and M.E. Held. 2004. Forest vegetation in Hamilton County, Ohio: a cluster analysis and ordination study. In Proceedings of the 14th Central Hardwood Forest Conference. Pages 312-321.
Hedeen, S. 2006. Natural history of the Cincinnati region. Cincinnati Museum Center Scientific Contribution Number 1.
Krusling, P.J. and J.W. Ferner. 1993. Distribution and status of amphibians in the northern tier counties of Kentucky. Environmental Research and Development Fund, The Cincinnati Gas and Electric Company.