Biomass harvest of invasive <i>Typha</i> promotes plant diversity in a Great Lakes coastal wetland

TitleBiomass harvest of invasive Typha promotes plant diversity in a Great Lakes coastal wetland
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLishawa SC, Lawrence BA, Albert DA, Tuchman NC
JournalRestoration Ecology
Date Published01/2015

Ecological and financial constraints limit restoration efforts, preventing the achievement of desired ecological outcomes. Harvesting invasive plant biomass for bioenergy has the potential to reduce feedback mechanisms that sustain invasion, while alleviating financial limitations. Typha × glauca is a highly productive invasive wetland plant that reduces plant diversity, alters ecological functioning, its impacts increase with time, and is a suitable feedstock for bioenergy. We sought to determine ecological effects of Typha utilization for bioenergy in a Great Lakes coastal wetland by testing plant community responses to harvest-restoration treatments in stands of 2 age classes and assessing community resilience through a seed bank study. Belowground harvesting increased light penetration, diversity, and richness and decreased Typha dominance and biomass in both years post-treatment. Aboveground harvesting increased light and reduced Typha biomass in post-year 1 and in post-year 2, increased diversity and richness and decreased Typha dominance. Seed bank analysis revealed that young stands (<20 years) had greater diversity, richness, seedling density, and floristic quality than old stands (>30 years). In the field, stand-age did not affect diversity or Typha dominance, but old stands had greater Typha biomass and slightly higher richness following harvest. Harvesting Typha achieved at least 2 desirable ecological outcomes: reducing Typha dominance and increasing native plant diversity. Younger stands had greater potential for native recovery, indicated by more diverse seed banks. In similar degraded wetlands, a single harvest of Typha biomass would likely result in significant biodiversity and habitat improvements, with the potential to double plant species richness.