Project ID



Investigators worked to identify and disseminate information to enhance riparian forest understory function through actions that reduce contaminant transport to surface waters and enhance terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity.

Key Question

How does forest land use affect understory plant community composition and terrestrial nutrient capture, and is there a link between plant communities and stream water/stream habitat quality? What is the potential for reintroduction of key herbaceous species, based on species performance and landowner interest in restoration activities?


There were differences in plant community composition: Preserved forests had greater proportions of high-quality, native, specialist plants than grazed or urban forests, and greater biomass production and nutrient capture by understory plants. Stream water nutrient content (especially nitrate concentration) was higher in urban streams compared to grazed or preserved forests. Three key understory species reintroduced to urban forests demonstrated persistence and reproduction within two years, and interaction with forest landowners/forest managers indicated interest in forest restoration activities.

Principal Investigator(s)

Jan R. Thompson


Cathy Mabry McMullen, Tim Stewart, Michaeleen Gerken, Randy Kolka, Zachary Keninger

Year of Grant Completion