Overcoming adversity : promise of recovery of native plants in a temperate wetland community following removal of yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus L.) using benthic barriers

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Sonntag, Emily
avoidance traits
benthic barrier treatments
invasive plants
recovery response
tolerance traits
yellow flag iris
Global declines in biodiversity and ecosystem function in wetlands is exacerbated by invasions of invasive plants such as yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus L.). Benthic barrier treatments were recently introduced as a viable method to control yellow flag iris, but the treatment can harm native plant species and contribute to further ecological loss. This study determined how the benthic barrier treatment installed for a one-year period affected the removal of yellow flag iris and the initial recovery of wetland plant species and if any evidence exists to suggest that yellow flag iris leaves a legacy after its removal that influences native plant recovery in a temperate freshwater wetland. A case study in the littoral zone of a lake in the Central Interior of British Columbia was completed which analyzed the comparisons between pre- and post-treatment stem density and community composition measures. Results revealed a reduction in yellow flag iris stem densities in submerged and emerged conditions of 100% and 72% respectively. High-water levels inhibited plant recovery, but native plants possessing strong regenerative avoidance and/or tolerance traits dominated recolonization on sites without standing water. The removal of yellow flag iris did not appear to affect the recovery of native plants. These results suggest that native plant communities will recover from yellow flag iris removal via benthic barriers, but the rate and vigor of recovery is dependent on environmental conditions and the regenerative avoidance and/or tolerance traits of local plant species.
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