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Wetlands have been providing humans with critical natural ecosystem services throughout our time on Earth. Nevertheless, these invaluable ecosystems have been habitually altered as a cost of human progression. Two of the most common alterations to wetlands are damming and filling. Both occurred along Kimages Creek in Charles City County, VA during the 19th and 20th centuries. In 2010 the Lake Charles dam was partially removed, restoring the creek’s tidal communication with the James River. Upon the recession of the body of water, numerous woody stumps were revealed. We studied these stump remnants in an attempt to assess the spatial structure and vegetative community of this forested freshwater tidal wetland before perturbation. We began by obtaining a geospatial coordinate for each stump, and every 10 stumps a cross-sectional wood sample was taken. These samples underwent taxonomic identification as well as aging in the lab. During this ongoing study, over 4,500 stumps have been geo-located and 413 samples have been processed. There were 15 unique species among 11 genera identified. The most abundant genus of trees was Fraxinus spp. (RD = 73.24%), and the next most abundant was Carya spp. (RD = 11.79%). The majority of the samples were of obligate or facultative wetland species (63.1%). We will soon compile the geospatial coordinates onto a GIS map and use the species data to better understand the native community. Recreating the natural historical vegetative community could help guide current restoration efforts in other locations in other mid-Atlantic formally impounded wetlands.

Publication Date


Subject Major(s)

Biology, Environmental Studies


wetland restoration, taxonomic identification, historical vegetation, spatial structure, geo-location


Biology | Ecology and Evolutionary Biology | Plant Sciences

Current Academic Year


Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Edward R. Crawford


© The Author(s)

Using the Past to Restore the Future: Quantifying Historical Vegetation to Assist in Tidal Freshwater Wetland Restoration