We analyzed soils in Alder Bald, Grassy Bald, and Rhododendron Bald communities on Roan Mountain to infer the influence of vegetation on soil and to help guide management strategies. In all vegetation types, soils were acid (pH = 4–5) sandy loams. We found vegetation-associated differences for organic content, cation exchange capacity, acidity, two plant macronutrients (K, Mg), and three cations (Fe, Na, Zn). We predicted that nitrogen compounds would be highest in the Alder Bald because Alnus viridis ssp. crispa (Green Alder) can harbor nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Organic content was highest at the alder-bald sites, ammonium was similar among vegetation types, and nitrate was high at only some sample sites. The unique soil properties of the Alder Bald community, its likely role in primary succession, and its documentation as a long-standing community type on Roan Mountain suggest that management should be directed towards its conservation.
Donaldson, James T.; Dinkins, Zachary C.; Levy, Foster; and Nandi, Arpita. 2014. Surface-Soil Properties of Alder Balds with Respect to Grassy and Rhododendron Balds on Roan Mountain, North Carolina—Tennessee. Southeastern Naturalist. Vol.13(2). 377-395. https://doi.org/10.1656/058.013.0218 ISSN: 1528-7092