Date of Award
Master of Science - Environmental Sciences
Dr. Kenneth Farrish
Dr. David Creech
Dr. Sheryll Jerez
Dr. Melinda Faulkner
The storm surge from Hurricane Ike in 2008 inundated much of Galveston Island, Texas, causing lasting below-ground impacts in the form of elevated soil sodium (Na+) concentrations. The Na+ initially killed much of the vegetation on the Island and its persistence in soils and groundwater slowed revegetation with some species. Soil amelioration techniques aimed at reducing soil Na+ concentrations were evaluated on an area affected by the storm surge. The treatments were: constructed raised beds composed of uncontaminated soil, incorporation of organic mulch, gypsum application, and combinations of these treatments. Inputs of Na+ from sea-spray aerosols were also quantified using a precipitation/dry-fall automated collector at the study site. In addition, three species of plants, live oak (Quercus virginiana), hybrid bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), and yellow hibiscus (Hibiscus hamabo) were planted on the treatment plots. A randomized factorial design using the eight treatment combinations with the three plant species was replicated six times. Plant survival and growth was monitored over two years. Only exchangeable soil Na+ and soluble Ca2+ concentrations showed statistically significant differences among treatments. Na+ translocated into the constructed raised beds during the study. Na+ input from sea spray aerosols was quite variable over a one year period, but the annual contribution to soil Na+ was relatively small. Plant survival, height, and diameter growth were not significantly impacted by the applied soil amendment treatments for either measurement period during the first year of plant establishment. However, constructed raised beds may have had a statistically significant, but weak, effect on plant volume growth between the first and second measurements. The same effect was not observed on plant volume growth between the second and final measurements.
Harris, Elaine, "Soil Amelioration and Plant Establishment on Sodium Affected Soils on Galveston Island, Texas" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 249.
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