Disturb soil/sediment surface: freshwater marshes

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

  • Two studies evaluated the effects, on vegetation, of disturbing the surface of freshwater marshes. Both studies were in the USA – in the same region but different sites.

VEGETATION COMMUNITY

  • Community composition (1 study): One replicated, paired, controlled study in rewetted marshes in the USA found that ploughed plots contained a plant community characteristic of wetter conditions than unploughed plots after one growing season – but not after two.
  • Overall richness/diversity (2 studies): Two replicated, controlled studies in rewetted marshes in the USA found that ploughed plots typically contained more wetland plant species than unploughed plots after one growing season – but not after two.

VEGETATION ABUNDANCE

  • Overall abundance (2 studies): Two replicated, controlled studies in rewetted marshes in the USA found that ploughed plots had greater cover of wetland plants than unploughed plots after one growing season – but not after two.
  • Individual species abundance (1 study): One replicated, controlled study in rewetted marshes in the USA found that ploughed plots had much greater cover of cattails Typha than unploughed plots after two growing seasons.

VEGETATION STRUCTURE

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A replicated, paired, controlled study in 1992–1993 in five freshwater marshes undergoing restoration in New York State, USA (Brown & Bedford 1997) found that plots with disturbed soil contained a more wetland-characteristic plant community, with more and greater cover of wetland species, after one growing season – but that these effects disappeared after two growing seasons. After one growing season, disturbed plots contained a plant community more characteristic of wetland conditions than undisturbed plots (data reported as a wetland indicator index). Disturbed plots also contained more and greater total cover of wetland plant species (3.2 species/plot; 28% cover) than undisturbed plots (2.0 species/plot; 19% cover). After two growing seasons, all metrics were statistically similar under both treatments: community composition, wetland plant cover (disturbed: 72%; undisturbed: 54%) and wetland plant richness (disturbed: 3.6; undisturbed: 2.8 species/plot). Methods: In May 1992, twenty 0.25-m2 plots were established across five recently rewetted sites (drained for ≥40 years previously). In five plots (one plot/site), the top 15 cm of soil was removed then put back in place. The other 15 plots (three plots/site) were left undisturbed. Plant species and cover were recorded in autumn 1992 and 1993.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 1993–1995 in five freshwater marshes undergoing restoration in New York State, USA (Brown & Bedford 1997) found that plots disturbed by ploughing typically contained more and greater cover of wetland plant species than unploughed plots after one year, and higher cover of cattails Typha spp. after two years. After one year, ploughed plots had greater total cover of wetland plants than unploughed plots in three of three comparisons (ploughed: 33–74%; unploughed: 5–15%). Ploughed plots contained more wetland plant species in two of three comparisons (for which ploughed: 5.7–6.4; unploughed: 3.0 species/plot; other comparison no significant difference). After two years, treatments did not significantly differ in either total wetland plant cover (ploughed: 114–138%; unploughed: 71–96%) or richness (ploughed: 2.4–4.9; unploughed: 3.7–4.7 species/plot). However, ploughed plots had far greater cover of cattails in three of three comparisons (ploughed: 72–148%; unploughed: 0–7%). Methods: The study used five degraded wetland sites, drained for ≥40 years. In summer 1993, areas within two sites were ploughed. In autumn 1993, all five sites were rewetted. Plant species and cover were recorded in 1994 and 1995 (precise date not reported), in 18 quadrats in the ploughed areas and 39 quadrats in nearby unploughed areas. Quadrats spanned a range of elevations.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Taylor N.G., Grillas P., Smith R.K. & Sutherland W.J. (2021) Marsh and Swamp Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions to Conserve Marsh and Swamp Vegetation. Conservation Evidence Series Synopses. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Marsh and Swamp Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Marsh and Swamp Conservation
Marsh and Swamp Conservation

Marsh and Swamp Conservation - Published 2021

Marsh and Swamp Synopsis

What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 18

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.


Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape Programme Red List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Bern wood Supporting Conservation Leaders National Biodiversity Network Sustainability Dashboard Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx British trust for ornithology Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Butterfly Conservation People trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust