Effects of Agricultural Runoff on Vegetation Composition of a Priority Conservation Wetland, Vermont, USA
- Shelley Gustafson and
- Deane Wang *
This study examined the effects of agricultural runoff on the vegetation structure of Franklin Bog, a priority conservation area located in a rapidly developing region of northwestern Vermont. Forested and agricultural runoff from the mixed land use watershed created differential vegetation patterns in the wetland, including weedy species introductions. Concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus were measured in the stream runoff from four forested subwatersheds and two agricultural subwatersheds. Nutrient concentrations were significantly higher for agricultural vs. forested runoff for all measured parameters. Nitrate and total phosphorus concentrations in agricultural runoff ranged from 0.62 to 1.35 mg L−1 and 0.07 to 0.37 mg L−1, respectively. Forested runoff values were less than 0.37 mg L−1 nitrate and 0.09 mg L−1 total phosphorus. Significantly higher proportions of weedy species occurred at impacted vs. reference sites (46 ± 5% vs. 23 ± 4%). Furthermore, significantly higher total percent vegetated cover occurred at impacted vs. reference sites (116 ± 11% vs. 77 ± 9%) suggesting nutrient induced plant growth. Of the nine frequently occurring species categorized as bog species, only one was found within impacted sites while all nine were found at the reference sites. This suggests that the wetland's distinctive native flora is being replaced by widespread, vigorous species enhanced by agricultural nonpoint pollution in the watershed of Franklin Bog. Protection of wetlands requires attention to conservation measures throughout the entire watershed.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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