Control of hardwood regeneration in restored carolina bay depression wetlands

Lee J. Moser, Christopher D. Barton, John I. Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carolina bays are depression wetlands located in the coastal plain region of the eastern United States. Disturbance of this wetland type has been widespread, and many sites contain one or more drainage ditches. Restoration of bays is of interest because they are important habitats for rare flora and fauna. Previous bay restoration projects have identified flood-tolerant woody competitors in the seedbank and re-sprouting as impediments to the establishment of desired herbaceous wetland vegetation communities. We restored 3 bays on the Savannah River Site, South Carolina, by plugging drainage ditches, harvesting residual pine/hardwood stands within the bays, and monitoring the vegetative response of the seedbank to the hydrologic change. We applied a foliar herbicide on one-half of each bay to control red maple (Acer rubrum), sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), and water oak (Quercus nigra) sprouting, and we tested its effectiveness across a hydrologic gradient in each bay. Hardwood regeneration was partially controlled by flooding in bays that exhibited long growing season hydroperiods. The findings also indicated that herbicide application was an effective means for managing hardwood regeneration and re-sprouting in areas where hydrologic control was ineffective. Herbicide use had no effect on species richness in the emerging vegetation community. In late-season drawdown periods, or in bays where hydroperiods are short, more than one herbicide application may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-135
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Restoration
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Depression wetlands
  • Hardwood competition
  • Wetland herbicide use
  • Wetland hydrology
  • Wetland restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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