Susan Galatowitsch, Associate Professor, Horticultural Science
Phalaris arundinacea invades sedge meadow restorations, forming persistent monotypes that prevent community establishment. Eradicating Phalaris, however, leaves restored ecosystems prone to reinvasion. In order to restore desired plant communities, methods to control Phalaris are needed. To determine if reducing light by sowing cover crops and reducing nitrogen by incorporating soil-sawdust amendments would prevent Phalaris invasions, a study was conducted under conditions similar to a restored wetland in two experimental basins with controlled hydrology. Seeds of a 10-species target community and Phalaris were sown in plots with high diversity, low diversity, or no cover crops in soils with or without sawdust amendments. Nitrogen, light, tissue C:N ratios, first-year seedling emergence, establishment, growth, and second-year above-ground biomass were measured. Only high diversity cover crops reduced light and sawdust reduced nitrogen for about nine weeks. Similar trends in first-year seedling data and second-year biomass data suggested Phalaris control efforts should focus on establishing perennial communities rather than implementing separate resource-limiting strategies. Sowing high diversity cover crops resulted in Phalaris-dominated communities, making cover crops an ineffective Phalaris control strategy. Using sawdust amendments did not reduce Phalaris invasion much beyond what the target community did, but resulted in a community similar to those of natural sedge meadows by increasing the abundance of seeded species from the Cyperaceae family and colonization of non-seeded wetland species. The target community apparently reduced Phalaris invasion by reducing both light and nitrogen. Regardless, no treatment fully prevented invasion, making follow-up Phalaris control necessary to ensure community recovery.