The Bottomland Hardwoods of the Hatchie River, The Only Unchannelized Mississippi Tributary
Documenting the natural condition of the floodplain forests of Mississippi River tributaries becomes ever more elusive as cultural alterations continue to obscure their "original" character. The 4,532 hectare Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge (HNWR) in West Tennessee provides the best-available opportunity to document the floodplain forests that once flourished along the major tributaries of the Mississippi Embayment. Of five major Mississippi tributaries in Tennessee, the Hatchie is the only one that remains unchannelized. Characterizing these "original" floodplain forests was the purpose of this study.
Forest cover types were classified according to species and soil-site relationships. Since these poorly drained soils do not have distinct pedogenic horizons, the single determinant used for distinguishing soil types was depth to gleying (DTG). Six DTG classes were used to delineate soil drainage/tree species relationships. The tree species comprising the forest cover types were classified as "indicator" or "plastic" based on their apparent affinity for specific ranges in DTG. Indicator species were restricted to specific topographic and soil conditions while the plastic species were found on a wide variety of topographic and soil conditions.