Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Organismal Biology

Reader 1

Solomon Dobrowski

Reader 2

Branwen Williams

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Rights Information

©2023 Soleil T Laurin


Human development affects natural environments in more ways than climate change, from the introduction of nonnative species and deforestation to pollution and urbanization. This is a case study examining the effects of PCB remediation on transitional floodplain forest along the Housatonic River in Western Massachusetts. The Housatonic River had previously been contaminated with PCBs and portions had been remediated. This study aims to determine the effects this remediation had on transitional floodplain forests, as well as provide a preliminary biodiversity assessment for sites that are planned to be remediated of PCBs by the Environmental Protection Agency. The study was carried out between July 26 – August 16, 2023, at seven sites along the river: two above the PCB contamination, three within the already PCB-remediated portion, and two in the portion that is planned to be PCB-remediated. Biodiversity, canopy cover, ground cover, proportion of nonnative and native species, and species make-up per site were organized into excel graphs. Canopy cover, ground cover, and proportion of native and nonnative species were analyzed using ANOVAs in R, and Shannon Index was calculated. Restoration and conservation were found to be effective protective measures against nonnative species and biodiversity loss, while PCB remediation without restoration was found to leave sites vulnerable to nonnative species growth. This study adds to understanding of forest communities in the Housatonic River Basin and is consistent with other studies regarding the effects of disturbance on forest communities.