Effects of Sediment Removal on Vegetation Communities in Prairie Pothole Wetlands in North Dakota
Smith, Caitlin Langworthy
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The goal of this study was to assess effects of sediment removal on vegetation communities in Prairie Pothole wetlands in North Dakota to determine if this management technique is providing desired results to create conditions for ideal vegetation communities in wetlands that will benefit wildlife. This project consists of vegetation surveys from seasonal wetlands located in Benson, Eddy. Towner. and Wells counties in North Dakota. Three types of wetlands were surveyed: natural (reference), excavated (treatment), and converted cropland. Vegetation surveys were completed in the shallow marsh and wet meadow zones of seasonal wetlands. Sites were sampled using a modified Daubenmire method. Aerial photos were assessed to determine the occurrence of drawdown cycles in wetland sites. Plant communities were analyzed using non-metric multidimensional scaling and multi-response permutation procedure was used to make comparisons between sites. The wet meadow zones and shallow marsh zones of the three types of wetlands were all significantly different (p<0.016) from one another. In general, restored wetlands show vegetation trends that liken natural wetlands while those that have been allowed to recover without restoration tend to be cattail choked. When examining hybrid cattail specifically visual obstruction scores were approximately four times greater in converted cropland sites versus treatment or reference sites. Vegetation composition indicates hydrologic conditions (fresh to brackish conditions) of specific sites and regional distribution are likely influential factors in wetland plant establishment.