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Bottomland Hardwood Habitat

Bottomland Hardwood Habitat

 Almost half of the refuge is mature bottomland hardwood forest. Bottomlands are wetlands located in the floodplain of Noxubee River and its tributaries. Approximately 22,000 acres (over 34 square miles) of bottomlands on the Refuge are forested with oaks, other hardwood trees, and bald cypress. 

Natural flooding on the refuge’s bottomlands is short-lived and intermittent. Late winter and early spring rainstorms sometimes cause streams to rise over their banks. Floodwater spreads over the floodplain, covering the forest floor with 1-3 feet of water and suspended sediment. Normally, standing water drains of within a week. Left behind is a layer of silt and organic matter that adds nutrients to the forest soil. 

Green timbered reservoirs in the bottomland hardwood forest have a small levee around them and are artificially flooded. November through February, water is held in the impoundments. These reservoirs provide shelter and food (acorns, small aquatic vertebrates, invertebrates, and plants) for overwintering waterfowl.    

Dominant oaks – Quercus, meaning “beautiful tree” in Latin – include cherrybark, willow, water, swamp chestnut, and overcup species. Oaks have long lateral roots, often extending up to thirty feet from the base of the tree. Dormant in winter, hardwoods are not harmed by brief flooding. Bald cypress trees, though not hardwoods, also are among the bottomland’s tallest trees. The bald cypress has a broad, buttressed trunk and mass of roots that help anchor it in soggy ground.

Last Updated: Dec 19, 2013
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