Management of Plant Invaders Within a Marsh: An Organizing Principle for Ecological Restoration?

  • James O. Luken
  • Keith Walters
Part of the Invading Nature – Springer Series In Invasion Ecology book series (INNA, volume 5)


Controlling plant invaders is often one aspect of ecological restoration. However, the planning and application of control measures can lead to difficult questions regarding project goals and measures of success. We present a case study of a coastal wetland system in South Carolina, USA, where two plant invaders, Phragmites australisand Typha domingensis,were targeted for control. As project participants gradually accepted the concept that success must be measured in terms of long-term system parameters rather than short-term invader control, the methods and approaches changed. As an alternative to applying herbicides, a method of reconnecting the system to the ocean was pursued. Instead of simply measuring plant control, a before-after-control-impact monitoring design was implemented that allowed comparison among restored and multiple reference systems in the immediate area. Attempts to reestablish tidal flow and modify environmental conditions to alter system attributes were variable with both unplanned positive and negative effects. Most of these impacts were associated with the fact that the wetland existed in a state park used by large numbers of people for passive recreation. The case study demonstrates that plant invasion and the willingness of people to control plant invaders can provide a useful starting point for eventual development and implementation of scientifically meaningful attempts at ecological restoration.


BACI Ecological restoration Phragmites australis Reference site Tidal reconnection Typha domingensis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • James O. Luken
    • 1
  • Keith Walters
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCoastal Carolina UniversityConwayUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marine ScienceCoastal Carolina UniversityConwayUSA

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