Concurrent Session: Wetland plants and plant communities
3:20 PM - 4:20 PM Wed
TITLE: Vegetation change over five years in ephemeral ponds
ABSTRACT: Ephemeral ponds are small wetlands that dry during some years. We assessed vegetation change in 37 ephemeral ponds in the Chippewa Moraine over a series of five years (2013-2017). 3 permanent plots were placed in different zones (bottom, edge, and intermediate transition regions) of each pond. There was high interannual variability in precipitation, with notable flooding in 2014. Over 30% of bottom plots had no vegetation present in 2014-2015, up from 8% in 2013. Both species richness and cover declined across all plot types in 2014. Although species richness recovered by 2017, cover did not. Aquatic and annual plant species exhibited slight increases in richness over the five years. Herbaceous perennials recovered quickly, but woody plants exhibited a lag in recovering species richness. Similar patterns were seen in cover, although all guilds had abundance declines in 2014. Plant communities in the bottom plots changed significantly from 2013 to 2014 but had resumed 2013 composition by 2017. No differences were seen in the transition and edge plots. In summary, plant communities of ephemeral ponds appear to have mechanisms to accommodate strongly fluctuating water levels, except for woody plants. This ability to rebound indicates possible resilience to future changes in precipitation patterns due to climate change.
BIO: Mandy Little is a Professor at UW-Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin. She researches ephemeral ponds, wetland restorations, peatlands, trout stream restorations, and invasive plant species. She is working to build the UW-Stout Herbarium and teaches wetland, plant, and ecology courses.