Does harvesting sustain plant diversity in central Mexican wetlands?

  • Published source details Hall S.J., Lindig-Cisneros R. & Zedler J.B. (2008) Does harvesting sustain plant diversity in central Mexican wetlands?. Wetlands, 28, 776-792.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

Action Link
Marsh and Swamp Conservation
  1. Cut/mow herbaceous plants to maintain or restore disturbance: freshwater marshes

    A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 2006–2007 in a freshwater marsh in central Mexico (Hall et al. 2008) found that resuming cutting altered the plant community composition and increased plant richness and diversity, but had no lasting effect on dominance, height or density of southern cattail Typha domingensis. After one year, the overall plant community composition significantly differed between cut and uncut plots (data not reported). Cut plots had higher plant species richness (12.4–14.8 species/4 m2) than uncut plots (11.0 species/4 m2) and had greater plant diversity (data reported as a diversity index). In contrast, cut and uncut plots contained a similar relative abundance of southern cattail (data not reported) with similar height (harvested: 164–291; abandoned: 178–299 cm) and shoot density (harvested: 4–20; abandoned: 5–25 ramets/m2). Before intervention, community composition, richness, diversity, cattail height and cattail density were similar in all plots (richness: 8.8–9.9 species/4 m2; other data not reported). Methods: In May 2006, thirty-two 3 x 7 m plots were established in a degraded marsh (historically harvested and grazed, but both activities “minimal” since 2002). The plots were split across two areas with different water levels. In 24 random plots (12 plots/area), vegetation was cut to 20 cm above the soil surface. In 16 of these plots, cattail was cut for up to five months afterwards. All cuttings were removed. The final eight plots (4 plots/area) were not cut. Plant species, plant cover and cattail height were recorded before (May 2006) and one year after (May 2007) the initial cut, in four 1-m2 quadrats/plot.

    (Summarised by: Nigel Taylor)

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