Ecological relationships between landscape change and plant guilds in depressional wetlands

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Plant guilds used to measure the relationships between wetlandplant community characteristics and landscape change around 31 depressionalwetlands in central Ohio, USA. Characteristics of certain plant guilds withineach wetland site are correlated with changes in: (a) area of urban land cover,forest, grassland, agriculture, and open-water in the local vicinity ofthe wetland; (b) inter-wetland distance; and (c) wetland size (area).Taxa richness is negatively correlated with inter-wetland distance forall plant guilds, except submersed herbaceous plants. Taxa richness of thesubmersed herbaceous plant guild (usually less than 20% of the totalnumber of plant species at a wetland) is positively correlated with the area ofopen-water in the local landscape and with the areaofthe wetland site itself. Significant positive correlationsalso exist between the area of open-water in the vicinity of the wetlandand the proportion of submersed herbaceous plant taxa at the site, the numberofnative submersed herbaceous plant species, the submersed herbaceous plantperennial-to-annual ratio, and the number ofavian-dispersed submersed herbaceous plant species at a site. Theresults suggest that (a) the dominance of submersed herbaceousplantspecies at a site is related to dispersal constraints between wetlands, and (b)the relatively slower physiological response of woody plants to local landscapechange may result in their contribution to greater ‘ecologicalinertia’ in the plant community as a whole. For these reasons,relationships between the plant community and land cover change may not alwaysbe observed unless analyzed at the level of plant-guild.


Landscape Ecology



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