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Model parameters for representative wetland plant functional groups

Amber S. Williams, James R. Kinry, David Mushet, Loren M. Smith, Scott McMurry T., Kelly Attebury, Megan Lang, Gregory W. McCarty, Jill A. Shaffer, William R. Effland, Mari-Vaughn V. Johnson
Ecosphere 2017 v.8 no.10 pp. 1-14
Eleocharis, Phalaris arundinacea, Polygonum, Schoenoplectus acutus, Typha, biodiversity, ecosystem services, ecosystems, groundwater recharge, growing season, highlands, leaf area index, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrient content, phosphorus, plant growth, potassium, refuge habitats, remediation, simulation models, water quality, wetland plants, wetlands, United States
Wetlands provide a wide variety of ecosystem services including water quality remediation, biodiversity refugia, groundwater recharge, and floodwater storage. Realistic estimation of ecosystem service benefits associated with wetlands requires reasonable simulation of the hydrology of each site and realistic simulation of the upland and wetland plant growth cycles. Objectives of this study were to quantify leaf area index (LAI), light extinction coefficient (k), and plant nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations in natural stands of representative plant species for some major plant functional groups in the U.S. Functional groups in this study were based on these parameters and plant growth types to enable process-based modeling. We collected data at four locations representing some of the main wetland regions of the U.S. At each site we collected on-the-ground measurements of fraction of light intercepted, LAI, and dry matter within the 2013 to 2015 growing seasons. Maximum LAI and k variables showed noticeable variations among sites and years, while overall averages and functional group averages give useful estimates for multisite simulation modeling. Variation within each species gives an indication of what can be expected in such natural ecosystems. For P and K, the concentrations from highest to lowest were spikerush (Eleocharis macrostachya), reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea), smartweed (Polygonum spp.), cattail (Typha spp.), and hardstem bulrush (Schoenoplectus acutus). Spikerush had the highest N concentration, followed by smartweed, bulrush, reed canary grass, and then cattail. These parameters will be useful for the actual wetland species measured and for the wetland plant functional groups they represent. These parameters and the associated process-based models offer promise as valuable tools for evaluating environmental benefits of wetlands and for evaluating impacts of various agronomic practices in adjacent areas as they affect wetlands.