Effects of overstory removal and fire on wetland vegetation and recruitment from the seed bank in a hydrologically restored Carolina bay wetland
Singer, Julian Hightower
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Carolina bays are isolated, freshwater depressional wetlands that maintain habitat diversity along the South Atlantic Coastal Plain. The impetus for this study on Carolina bay restoration stems from the need for detailed information regarding factors influencing the restoration success of disturbed wetland ecosystems. We detail restoration treatments and subsequent herbaceous vegetation dynamics relative to changing hydrologic conditions over a two-year period post-restoration. In an initial germination project, the seed bank showed potential as an in situ seed source for herbaceous wetland species. Up to fifty percent of the plant species sampled two years post-restoration were present in the seed bank. More importantly, the seed bank provided wetland species in the post-restoration vegetation treatments where the canopy was removed. Two years after restoration, bay hydrology was typical of similar Carolina bay wetlands and wetland vegetation germinating from the seed bank was persisting in the wettest portions of the wetland.