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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Shappell, Laura [1], Struwe, Lena [2], Ehrenfeld, Joan [1].

Japanese Stiltgrass Dominance as a Reflection of Flooding in Headwater Wetlands.

The stressors of flooding may limit the spatial distribution of invasive plants, particularly in the shaded understory of forested headwater wetlands. However, the extent to which flooding limits the distribution and dominance of invasive plants in forested wetlands remains unexplored. We hypothesize that Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) dominance is reflective of local hydrology, and that flood timing, duration, and depth inhibit the establishment of some invasive plants. Vegetation structure was measured in six mineral flat wetlands in urban, central New Jersey. In wetland plots where stiltgrass was present, dominance (m2) was nearly three times as great in saturated plots (n = 14, 23±7%) than those experiencing seasonal flooding (n = 12, 6 ± 2%). The effects of flooding duration and depth on stiltgrass seedling production were also investigated during a three-month mesocosm experiment. Flooding condition was manipulated for the first three weeks of the experiment, after which seedling production in flooded vs. control treatments was assessed. We concluded that stiltgrass germination and seedling production are inhibited by flooding. The control treatment (n = 7) was the only treatment to produce seedlings, even two months following drawdown of the flooded treatments (5 ± 1). Less than a week of shallow flooding during the natural germination period of Japanese stiltgrass seems to reduce recruitment significantly of this invasive annual grass. The field and mesocosm results suggest that even small shifts in flooding may have profound impacts on invasive species dominance and spatial distribution.

Broader Impacts:

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1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources, 14 College Farm Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA
2 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution, & Natural Resources, 59 Dudley Road, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, USA

invasive species
biological invasion
Climate Change
life cycle.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper:Papers for Sections
Session: 14
Location: Newberry/Riverside Hilton
Date: Monday, July 29th, 2013
Time: 2:30 PM
Number: 14003
Abstract ID:536
Candidate for Awards:None

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