Co-authors: Craig Annen and Jared Bland, Integrated Restorations
Title: Bog-associated vegetation enhances plant species diversity in southeastern Wisconsin calcareous fens
Abstract: Calcareous fens are diversity hotspots that support a wide variety of vegetation ranging from facultative wetland species to specialist calciphiles along with high proportions of rare, at-risk, and conservative plant species. Fen wetlands are vulnerable plant communities, both globally and in Wisconsin. Invasive species, hydrological modification, and a warming climate have all been correlated with declines in fen acreage. Fens are receiving renewed attention due to their role in carbon storage. A recent study estimated that fen wetlands in Europe and North America have an annual carbon storage capacity exceeding four metric tons per acre. Research also suggests that carbon storage capacity is maximized at sites with high plant species diversity, such as calcareous fens. We have been conducting empirical monitoring of managed wetlands in TNC's Mukwonago River Watershed Project since 2012 to measure community responses to invasive species management. During the course of our monitoring, we frequently encountered bog-associated vegetation within sites designated as fens and containing predominantly fen-associated vegetation. Of the 239 species surveyed in fen communities, seventeen were either modal to bogs or strongly associated with bog habitats. Several additional species had fidelity to both habitats. We postulated two explanations for these observations: 1) peat accumulation within fens has resulted in small-scale areas becoming disconnected from the water table and functionally becoming bogs, and 2) substrate heterogeneity within fens has created a variety of soil chemistry conditions. We suggest that the presence of bog-associated species enhances plant diversity and carbon storage capacity of fens.
View Poster: https://www.wisconsinwetlands.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Erin-Green-Poster.Green_
Bio: Erin Green is a recent graduate of the UW-Madison, where she earned a bachelor's degree in forest science with a certificate of environmental studies. Erin currently works for Integrated Restorations as an ecologist and has previously interned with the Madison Audubon Society and WDNR. She enjoys hiking and photography.