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Responses of wetland invertebrates and plants important in waterfowl diets to burning and mowing of emergent vegetation

Abstract

We examined the responses of invertebrates and plants important in waterfowl diets to two management methods (prescribed burning and mowing) commonly used in seasonal wetlands. Experimental plots were constructed in summer 1992 in stands of saltgrass (Distichlis spicata); 50% of the vegetation was removed in treatment areas (10 m × 10 m) by either burning or mowing. After the plots were flooded, we sampled aquatic invertebrates monthly from November 1992 through February 1993. In August 1993, we sampled plants that grew in areas that had been burned or mowed. Burning and mowing treatments had very different results. Many numerically dominant macroinvertebrates and microinvertebrates had higher densities in burned treatment areas than in unmanipulated control areas, but densities of most taxa were not different in mowed treatment areas and control areas. Copepod densities were lower in burned treatment areas and oligochaete densities were lower in mowed treatment areas than in control areas. Midge (Diptera: Chironomidae) biomass was higher in burned and mowed treatment areas than in control areas. Plant species richness and percent cover of some plant taxa were higher in burned areas than in control areas. Many of the invertebrates and plants we sampled are important in waterfowl diets, and our results indicate that these methods can enhance waterfowl food resources.

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de Szalay, F.A., Resh, V.H. Responses of wetland invertebrates and plants important in waterfowl diets to burning and mowing of emergent vegetation. Wetlands 17, 149–156 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03160726

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03160726

Key Words

  • California
  • Chironomidae
  • emergent plants
  • invertebrates
  • mowing
  • prescribed burning
  • seasonal marsh
  • waterfowl
  • wetlands