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Plant succession and greentree reservoir management: Implications for management and restoration of bottomland hardwood wetlands

December 1, 1996

Bottomland hardwood forests are distributed along rivers and streams throughout the central and eastern United States, with the greatest concentration in the Southeast. Past and projected losses of bottomland hardwoods and degradation of remaining stands suggest that habitat management and/or restoration strategies that target multiple species and multiple uses will be necessary to maintain, enhance, and restore flora and fauna within bottomland hardwood wetlands. A greentree reservoir is a current management strategy that entails manipulating water regimes to provide habitat for wintering waterfowl. We conducted a literature review and synthesis to determine the potential impacts of greentree reservoir management on plant succession within bottomland hardwood wetlands. Greentree reservoirs can impact vegetation establishment through several processes. Despite shortcomings of greentree reservoirs, designs similar to them could be very beneficial in restoring bottomland hardwood plant and animal communities from degraded forests provided water-level control and maintenance are substantially improved. Emulation of natural hydrologic regimes, including natural variability, could produce diverse bottomland hardwood plant communities and provide habitat for a variety of wildlife species.

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