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Floristic inventory of the Little Traverse Conservancy Bessey Creek Nature Preserve, Douglas Lake
In 2011, the Field Botany of Northern Michigan class conducted an initial floristic study of the Bessey Creek Nature Preserve (BCNP) in Cheboygan County, MI. BCNP is owned by the Little Traverse Conservancy (Harbor Springs, MI). The site is located at the mouth of Bessey Creek where it enters Douglas Lake. BCNP is a small preserve (0.2 ha), with 110 m of water frontage on northwest Douglas Lake. The preserve contains several plant communities located in four habitats: the roadside, the swamp, the littoral marsh, and the aquatic shoreline. Our sampling identified 116 species in 54 families, with a mean coefficient of conservation of 4.44 for only native species, and 3.62 including introduced species. The site had a wetlands index of -2.52, signifying that BCNP contains mostly facultative wetland species. The four habitats include the relatively dry roadside with many weedy or invasive species, the Fraxinus nigra (black ash) swamp consisting mainly of wetland plant species, the littoral zone along Douglas Lake dominated by grasses and sedges, and the open water of Douglas Lake and Bessey Creek. Despite its small size, the four habitats in the preserve ensure high plant diversity. Among the 116 plant species in BCNP, seven invasive or weedy species (Phalaris arundinacea, Myosotis scorpioides, Lonicera morrowii, Cirsium arvense, Aegopodium podagraria, Celastrus orbiculatus, and Lythrum salicaria) were identified. Fourteen species of conservation concern (Myriophyllum sibiricum, Campanula aparinoides, Carex lasiocarpa, Comarum palustre, Dulichium arundinaceum, Equisetum fluviatile, Lathyrus palustris, Lobelia cardinalis, Platanthera psycodes, Nuphar variegata, Cladium mariscoides, Carex aquatilis, Carex rostrata, and Chelone glabra ) were also identified within BCNP.
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