Analyzing the Impact of Live Staking on Channel and Floodplain Morphology and Soil Carbon Sequestration in a First-Order Stream, Central Pennsylvania
Author:Allison Bergeron ’22
Co-Authors:Georgia Lambrakis, Lysle Sherwin
Faculty Mentor(s):Ellen Chamberlin, Geology
Live staking is a stream restoration technique where live cuttings of riparian trees and woody shrubs are planted into stream banks and floodplains to revegetate degraded areas, decrease erosion and runoff, and provide bank stability. Here we present results from year two of a multi-year study investigating the effects of live staking a post-agricultural, unnamed tributary of Pine Creek located in Woodward, PA. Over 2000 live stakes were planted along the streambanks and floodplain in 2018-2019. In summer 2021, we extracted soil cores along transects perpendicular to the tributary, and we collected high resolution topography along each transect using a Trimble RTK-GPS. We also measured the carbon content of each soil core on a CHN analyzer.
Soil sampling showed that the floodplain mainly consist of silt loam with charcoal, roots, and rusty-colored mottling. There are no major spatial trends in soil characteristics throughout the study site. The mean soil carbon percentage is 1.77% , which is low compared to other published studies of floodplain soil carbon in temperate regions. Channel analysis shows a relatively degraded stream, with low sinuosity and a silt-covered bed that is considerably incised relative to the floodplain elevation.
Compared to baseline data collected in 2020, the average soil carbon increased by 0.1% and channel dimensions have not changed. Overall, these results show that impacts from live staking on channel dimensions and soil properties are not seen after one year, although we hypothesize that soil carbon will increase in the future, given the low baseline values.