Article

Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 469-478

First online:

Vegetation Communities of 20-year-old Created Depressional Wetlands

  • Robert B. AtkinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityDepartment of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Science, Christopher Newport University Email author 
  • , James E. PerryAffiliated withVirginia Institute of Marine Science
  • , John CairnsJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Abstract

Many studies have chronicled the early development of vegetation in wetlands created as mitigation for wetland impacts; however, very few studies have followed the floristics of wetlands that are more than 10 years post-creation. This article reports the results of vegetation composition and structural analysis within eleven 20-yr-old created non-tidal, emergent wetlands. Vegetation and inundation were sampled in 173 plots within 11 wetlands during the 1992 and 1994 growing seasons. A drought occurred in 1993, thus analyses characterized vegetative response and included weighted average (weighted by the tolerance of the species to excess soil moisture), species richness, species composition, and life history strategy. Weighted average and species richness increased in 7 and 10 of the 11 sites, respectively. There was little change among most species including Typha latifolia and Scirpus cyperinus, the two species with highest importance values (IV). However, among the top 10 species ranked by IV, two aquatic species decreased and a facultative species increased. Only one of the 10 most important species, Eleocharis obtusa, was an annual and only one, Salix nigra, was a woody perennial and the IV of both species declined during the study. After 20 years, a transition from annual to perennial graminoid life histories is suggested; however, succession from emergent to shrub–scrub or forested wetland is not indicated.

Key words

created wetlands created wetland succession species richness wetland vegetation dynamics