Vegetation Shifts Around the Great Lakes – May 24th, 201346.9N 88.1W
Water-level change is integral to the structure and function of Great Lakes coastal wetlands, and many studies document predictable relationships between vegetation and water level. However, anthropogenic stressors, such as invasive species, land-use change, and water-level stabilization, interact to shift the historical cycle toward dominance by invasive species.
Scientists have determined that habitat dominated by Typha species has expanded to eliminate wet meadow habitat. In 2000, meadow area was below that predicted by the historical pattern due to the landward advance of marsh habitat during a year of decreasing water levels. In the same period, land use in the wetland watersheds converted from agriculture to urban. Studying vegetation shifts is an essential step in the process of preserving and restoring ecological integrity (click here for more information).