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Landscape-Scale Ecological Factors and Their Role in Plant Opportunism of Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands

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Abstract:Coastal wetlands of the Laurentian Great Lakes (USA and Canada) are among the most biologically diverse ecosystems of the world. However, since the 1970s the presence of opportunistic plant species such as common reed (Phragmites australis [Cav.] Steudel) have increased in Great Lakes wetlands, potentially diminishing biological diversity. Generally, decreases in wetland plant species diversity have been correlated with human-induced disturbances, including fragmentation from roads, urbanization, and agricultural development. Remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS) offer unique capabilities to measure the type, extent, and physical characteristics of coastal wetlands, wetland plant communities, and human-induced wetland disturbance across vast regions. Thus, we developed and used a field-based vegetation assessment protocol in combination with satellite/airborne and GIS data analyses to test for ecological relationships between wetland disturbance and the presence and configuration of common reed stands in coastal wetlands of the Great Lakes. Plant community field measurements were conducted in thirteen representative wetlands within the coastal margin of the Great Lakes. Landscape-scale measurements were conducted throughout the Great Lakes basin to quantify wetland plant community composition; size and configuration of coastal wetlands; proximity to anthropogenic stressors and 'natural' land cover; and the potential effects of anthropogenic stressors and 'natural' land cover. The results describe differences among wetlands, differences among contributing watersheds, change along environmental gradients, and demonstrate how these relationships are being used to improve wetland conservation and management programs in the USA and Canada.
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Citation:Lopez, R. D., C. M. Edmonds, and D. T. Heggem. Landscape-Scale Ecological Factors and Their Role in Plant Opportunism of Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands. Presented at The 7th International Association of Ecology (INTECOL) International Wetlands Coference, Utrecht, The Netherlands, July 25-30, 2004.
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Landscape Ecology Branch
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Product Type: Abstrct/Oral
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Presented: 07/25/2003
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Remote Sensing Technologies Applications Research
spacer Relationship Reason:   A Project of the Product
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