Management of dominant Carex species on floodplain meadows

Newman, Sonia K. (2014). Management of dominant Carex species on floodplain meadows. PhD thesis The Open University.



Carex acuta and Carex acutiformis have been identified as problem plant species on floodplain meadows in the UK and western Europe and invasive plants in wetland habitats in North America and Canada. A double-cut treatment has been proposed as a control method, however this has not been scientifically tested. This thesis explores the ecology of C.acuta and C.acutiformis, the effectiveness of a double cut treatment on their control, the effects of the cutting treatment on the plant community and potential mechanisms regulating the expansion and persistence of the dominant sedge species in sub-optimal conditions. Field trials were set up to monitor the effects of cutting treatment on the meadow vegetation and pot experiments assess the effects of cutting on Carex plant traits. Mesocosm experiments were also undertaken to explore the relationships between water regime, microbial community and plant competition.

The field trials revealed that a double cut was a successful treatment to control C.acuta and C.acutiformis on floodplain meadows. The frequency of the cutting treatment was more important than the timing of the additional cut in controlling C.acuta and C.acutiformis. Carex traits were not affected by the timing of defoliation, however flowering in C.acuta significantly decreased with a double cut compared to a single cut. The microbial community had no effect on the plant community in the mesocosm experiment, the reasons for this are discussed. Drying stress decreased the yield, but not necessarily the percentage cover of the studied sedges and increased the cover of drought tolerant plants in the field and in the mesocosm experiments. Recommendations of short-term treatments to control C.acuta and C.acutiformis are presented in this study.

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