Long-term vegetation development of restored prairie pothole wetlands

  • Published source details Aronson M.F.J. & Galatowitsch S. (2008) Long-term vegetation development of restored prairie pothole wetlands. Wetlands, 28, 883-895.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Raise water level to restore/create freshwater marshes from other land uses

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Raise water level to restore/create freshwater marshes from other land uses

    A replicated study in 1991–2007 of 37 restored prairie potholes (rewetted and planted with cover crops) in the Midwest USA (Aronson & Galatowitsch 2008) reported that they were colonized by wetland plants, but not all the species found in nearby natural potholes. Restored potholes contained 138 wetland plant species (22 species/pothole) after three years, 268 wetland plant species (60 species/pothole) after 12 years, and 279 wetland plant species (57 species/pothole) after 19 years. However, some species found in nearby natural potholes never colonized the restored potholes: 22% of common species, 70% of uncommon species and 93% of rare species. Overall, plant community composition across the 37 restored potholes became more similar over time (data reported as a similarity index). After 19 years, vegetation in the wet meadow zone was dominated by reed canary grass Phalaris arundinacea (66% cover), the emergent zone by cattails Typha spp. (56% cover) and the aquatic zone by pondweed Potamogeton spp. (77% cover). Methods: This study analyzed data from 37 prairie potholes that had been restored from farmland in 1988 and sampled through to 2007. Restoration involved rewetting by breaking/blocking drainage systems (resulting water levels varied from annual flooding to seasonal saturation), and planting cover crops in/around some sites. Note that the study evaluates the combined effect of rewetting and planting cover crops in some potholes. In summer 1991, 2000 and 2007, plant species and cover were recorded across the whole of each pothole. including upland buffer zone). This study used a subset of potholes from (4) and (11).

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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