Changes in Soil Properties of Forests Rooted by Wild Boar

In order to devise an ecologically sound management plan for the wild boar herd in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, data on the impact of these animals on the environment are essential. Soil chemical properties and nutrient concentrations were examined for possible boar impact from 9 high elevation beech gap communities ranging in severity of boar disturbance. Levels of soil organic matter, cation exchange capacity, and acidity, increased on boar-rooted sites, whereas percent base saturation declined. These changes suggested that boar rooting stimulated organic matter decomposition and soil nutrient mobilization; both A and B horizons were susceptible with the extent of change being a function of the intensity and length of disturbance. Potential long-term implications for the growth and productivity of these forest communities are presented.

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