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Wetlands

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 31–42 | Cite as

Regeneration ofScirpus americanus in a Texas coastal marsh following lesser snow goose herbivory

  • Deborah L. Miller
  • Fred E. Smeins
  • James W. Webb
  • Michael T. Longnecker
Article

Abstract

Interaction of herbivory by wintering lesser snow geese (Anser caerulescens caerulescens), environmental conditions, and burning were investigated in a mid-Texas coastal marsh dominated byScirpus americanus (Olney bulrush). Goose grubbing and use ofS. americanus rhizomes and roots initially produced a patchwork of denuded and vegetated areas on a recently burned area. Regrowth occurred by reestablishment of uprooted shoot complexes; regeneration from seed was not observed. Regrowth was dependent on intensity of use and post-herbivory environmental conditions. After three years of varying levels of goose use and environmental conditions, lowest foliar cover and standing crop occurred in areas with a high frequency and intensity of goose use followed by spring drought and high salinities. Greatest growth was associated with low frequency and intensity of use followed by normal spring freshwater inflows and low salinities. Burning did not significantly affect the response ofS. americanus. Continued frequent and intense snow goose use, coupled with high salinity and extended periods with water levels below the marsh surface, can produce denuded mudflats subject to accelerated soil erosion. Management strategies to reduce the impact of these combined events could be implemented. Hydroperiod and salinity conditions should be routinely monitored, and goose populations should be temporally and spatially directed to reduce the potential for conversion of marsh to permanent mudflats.

Key Words

Olney bulrush Scirpus americanus fire patch dynamics salinity vegetative regrowth Texas coastal marsh disturbance intensity 

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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Deborah L. Miller
    • 1
  • Fred E. Smeins
    • 2
  • James W. Webb
    • 3
  • Michael T. Longnecker
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Wildlife Ecology and ConservationUniversity of Florida at MiltonMilton
  2. 2.Department of Rangeland Ecology and ManagementTexas A&M UniversityCollege Station
  3. 3.Department of Marine BiologyTexas A&M at GalvestonGalveston
  4. 4.Department of StatisticsTexas A&M UniversityCollege Station

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