Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2012NJ312B

Urban wetland plant assemblage species diversity and invasive species dominance as expressions of flood regime

Institute: New Jersey
Year Established: 2012 Start Date: 2012-03-01 End Date: 2013-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,001

Principal Investigators: Laura Shappell, Lena Struwe

Abstract: Wetland system structure and function is largely determined by local hydrology, but plant species composition also influences system processes. Characterizing and understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive floral diversity has great implications for the development of best management practices that maximize wetland services. This proposal builds upon my dissertation research examining wetland floral diversity and structure in six urban wetlands in New Jersey, USA. My work characterizing wetland flora was part of a multi-year interdisciplinary grant, in which we examined the correlations among West Nile Virus disease risk and habitat diversity. Characteristics such as species richness, tree DBH, woody stem density, herbaceous species cover, canopy openness, and physical traits such as litter depth and plot topography were measured within 84 707-square meter plots. Hydrology monitoring began in 2011 at three wetland sites using temperature sensors as a proxy for flooding since under flooded conditions, the diurnal temperature flux is muted. Hourly temperature data collected from the sensors convey approximate flooding duration, depth and number of flooding episodes during the growing season. Ambient temperature data collected at each plot and local NOAA weather data serve as a standard for comparing within-plot hourly temperature fluxes. My 2012 field season will expand to encompass all six research wetland sites, with monitoring occurring at 2-4 points per wetland. Additionally, I will install water level HOBO data loggers to improve the accuracy and precision of my hydrology dataset. These point-specific data will be used to explore patterns of floral diversity and invasive species dominance.