Add surface mulch: freshwater marshes
Overall effectiveness category No evidence found (no assessment)
Number of studies: 0
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Background information and definitions
Organic mulches (i.e. remains or waste products of living organisms) can be placed on the surface of wetlands to stabilize temperatures and humidity, and provide shade to germinating plants. This may create a more hospitable environment for vegetation establishment and growth. Mulches can also help to manage acidification by excluding oxygen from sediments and stimulating microbial processes that neutralize the acidity (Baldwin 2011). Carbon-rich organic matter may also help to shift the competitive balance away from invasive species in polluted environments, enriched in certain nutrients (Reever Morghan & Seastedt 1999; Tilman et al. 1999; Perry et al. 2004). Examples of substances than can be used as mulches include compost, straw, seagrass leaves and seaweed (macroalgae).
Caution: It may be necessary to sterilize mulch before applying it, with heat or radiation, to kill propagules of undesirable plants. Adding organic matter as a mulch may be less labour intensive than mixing it into the soil or sediment, but increases the risk of the material being washed away.
To be summarized as evidence for this action, studies must have added mulch that is largely free from plant propagules. The mulch should be used to help or manage existing vegetation, such as remnant patches of vegetation, or seedlings that germinate from seeds already present.
Related actions: Use covers/barriers to control problematic plants; Add cover other than mulch during marsh restoration/creation; Add surface mulch to complement planting.
Baldwin D. (2011) National Guidance for the Management of Acid Sulfate Soils in Inland Aquatic Ecosystems, Environment Protection and Heritage Council and the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, Australia.
Perry L.G., Galatowitsch S.M. & Rosen C.J. (2004) Competitive control of invasive vegetation: a native wetland sedge suppresses Phalaris arundinacea in carbon-enriched soil. Journal of Applied Ecology, 41, 151–162.
Reever Morghan K.J. & Seastedt T.R. (1999) Effects of soil nitrogen reduction on nonnative plants in restored grasslands. Restoration Ecology, 7, 51–55.
Tilman E.A., Tilman D., Crawley M.J. & Johnston A.E. (1999) Biological weed control via nutrient competition: potassium limitation of dandelions. Ecological Applications, 9, 103–111.
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This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:Marsh and Swamp Conservation
Marsh and Swamp Conservation - Published 2021
Marsh and Swamp Synopsis