Remove plant litter: freshwater swamps
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
Background information and definitions
Accumulation of dead plant matter, or litter, can cause undesirable changes to swamp plant communities. Litter can affect temperature, light and nutrient availability (Weltzin et al. 2005) and act as a barrier to seedlings from below and seeds from above (Facelli & Pickett 1991). Litter removal may be necessary after abandonment or suppression of disturbance.
Caution: Litter accumulation is an important process in some wetlands, contributing organic matter to the soil. Where it is desirable to remove litter, removal by hand may cause less damage to soils and vegetation than using heavy machinery. Be aware that seeds of desirable plants may be removed along with the litter.
To be summarized as evidence for this action, studies must have examined the effect of litter removal alone (not, for example, the effect of removing litter from mown plots, or the combined effect of mowing and litter removal).
Related actions: Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance and Use prescribed fire to maintain or restore disturbance, both of which could help to clear plant litter.
Facelli J.M. & Pickett S.T.A. (1991) Plant litter: its dynamics and effects on plant community structure. The Botanical Review, 57, 1–32.
Weltzin J.F., Keller J.K., Bridgham S.D., Pastor J., Allen P.B. & Chen J. (2005) Litter controls plant community composition in a northern fen. Oikos, 110, 537–546.