The use of prescribed fire, herbicide application, and native plants to restore bottomland Blackland Prairie in constructed wetlands
Abstract: The Blackland Prairie of Texas, once covering approximately 4.2 million ha, now exists mainly in fragments <10 ha encompassing less than 1% of its original total area. Increasing awareness of the importance of the Blackland Prairie region and the ecosystem services provided therein has promoted restoration of prairie remnants and establishment of prairie plant assemblages in constructed systems. We use a randomized block design to measure levels of short-term phenological success and biomass gain of eastern gamagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) and lowland switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in constructed wetlands containing encroaching woody and invasive competitor species. We establish three treatments: (1) herbicide, (2) prescribed burn and (3) herbicide and prescribed burn. Each treatment will contain plots with species 1, plots with species 2, and plots with both species 1 and 2 to compare isolated and co-occurrence growth success. Here we compare the existing species composition, diversity, and abiotic factors at two constructed prairie wetlands with mixed land use and management histories. We hypothesize that a combination method of herbicide/prescribed burn will have the greatest negative effect on invasive re-emergence and the greatest positive effect on native plant growth. Results from this study will provide baseline data for native plant success and future management strategies in constructed prairie wetlands, and may be integrated into future bottomland prairie restoration designs.
Canaan A. D. Sutton*, Jeffrey G. Kopachena, Derald Harp, and Johanna Delgado-Acevedo
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