Establishment of Carex stricta Lam. seedlings in experimental wetlands with implications for restoration
- Cite this article as:
- Budelsky, R.A. & Galatowitsch, S.M. Plant Ecology (2004) 175: 91. doi:10.1023/B:VEGE.0000048102.72101.50
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The loss of Carex dominated meadows due to agricultural drainage in the previously glaciated midcontinent of North America has been extensive. The lack of natural Carex recruitment in wetland restorations and the failures of revegetation attempts underscore the need for information on the establishment requirements of wetland sedges. In this study, seedlings of Carex stricta Lam. were planted in three experimental wetlands in east-central Minnesota, USA to investigate the biotic and abiotic environmental limitations to establishment. Seedlings were planted along an elevational water depth gradient to assess the effects of water depth and water level fluctuation on seedling survival and growth. A different water level fluctuation regime was assigned to each of the experimental wetlands to assess seedling tolerance for seasonal water level changes. The effects of seedling planting density and the presence or absence of non-sedge colonizers on seedling survival and growth were also studied. The experiment was followed for three growing seasons. The results of this study indicate that C. stricta seedlings were sensitive to the timing and duration of inundation during the first growing season. Once established, plants tolerated a broad range of seasonal drying and flooding conditions. Seedling and juvenile growth was slowed by non-sedge colonizers during the first two growing seasons, but by the third growing season, C. stricta was able to out-grow all annual and perennial weeds, except the aggressive perennial, Phalaris arundinacea L. The rapid growth of C. stricta plants, once established, indicates that the use of seedlings is a successful method for (re) introducing this tussock sedge into wetland restorations under a variety of environmental conditions. Comparison with other studies performed under similar conditions suggests that planting of seedlings is a more appropriate method of establishing this species than the use of transplanted rhizomes.