Environments and Ecosystems of North Carolina*

Guest Lecturer:

Joseph J. Luczkovich. Ph.D.
Institute for Coastal and Marine Resources and Department of Biology, N-418, East Carolina University
252-328-1759 (ICMR) or 328-1847 (Biology)
 *Written with David Knowles, Department of Biology, East Carolina University
NEW!  Click link below for PowerPoint Slide show from Dr. Luczkovich's Lectures 12 and 17 Sep 2001
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What is an Ecosystem?

What is Biodiversity?

North Carolina Ecosystem Survey (Slide show)

North Carolina is located within thetemperate deciduous forest global biome, however, a great variety of forest and non-forest ecosystems may be found within the state. The temperature and moisture regimes throughout North Carolina are relatively consistent but topography, elevation, soils, hydrology, disturbance and land use history combine to influence ecosystem and community composition, structure, and function.

The outline that follows provides you with a brief overview of the major terrestrial and freshwater habitats of North Carolina (see Shafale and Weakley 1990).  There are three main physiographic regions in North Carolina: the Appalachian Highlands, the Piedmont, and the Coastal Plain. Each of these regions has a different geological and ecological history.

Map of the physiographic regions of NC

Appalachian Highlands

Geology: (2500’-6000’); 400 million years old; metamorphic rock with igneous intrusions; acidic, shallow Entisols and Inceptisol on slopes, Ultisols in basins

Ecosystem types:

Piedmont Plateau

Geology (200’ - 2500’); remnant metamorphic mountains, dissected plateaus, highly weathered Ultisols; upper soil horizons eroded, mass wasting of soils is occurring still today (soils are eroding into the rivers)

Ecosystem types:

Coastal Plain

Geology: (0’ - 200’) sedimentary rock layers (limestone) underlying deep Ultisol soils; marine deposition

Ecosystem types:

Aquatic Ecosystems

Human changes in NC Ecosystems


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