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The restoration of sedge meadows: seed viability, seed germination requirements, and seedling growth ofCarex species

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To better understand how to establishCarex species from seed in created and restored wetlands, a series of experimental studies was conducted onCarex seed and seedlings. These studies included (1) the effect of seed age (1 to 18 months after collection) on viability and germination, (2) storage conditions (+4,-4 or +4/-4°C; wet or dry) on seed germination, (3) soil moisture on seed germination, and (4), soil amendments (fertilizer, topsoil, and compost) on seedling recruitment and growth. Seeds ofCarex species of several provenances would not germinate to any appreciable extent once they were more than six months old. ForCarex aquatilis, germination could be increased by storing its seed at either 4°C or—4°C. ForCarex lacustris andCarex stricta, seed germination decreased significantly, by about 50 to 100% in all 8 storage treatments. Germination ofCarex stipata seed was highest in 1 cm of standing water, and its seed did not germinate in the driest soil moisture treatment.Carex stricta seed germination was not affected very much by soil moistures. NoCarex spp. were recruited from seed in any of the field soil-amendment treatment plots. In both the greenhouse and field, the addition of compost, topsoil, and fertilizer increased the growth ofCarex stricta. In a greenhouse study, above ground, below ground, and total dry mass increased linearly with the percent compost added. Our results suggest that the probability of establishingCarex spp. from seed in created and restored wetlands in the Upper Midwest would be maximized by using fresh seed, preferably seed produced earlier in the same growing season; by keeping soil moisture levels as high as possible; and by raising the soil’s organic matter content, if need by, through the use of suitable soil amendments to levels found in natural sedge meadows.

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van der Valk, A.G., Bremholm, T.L. & Gordon, E. The restoration of sedge meadows: seed viability, seed germination requirements, and seedling growth ofCarex species. Wetlands 19, 756–764 (1999).

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