Decomposition of three common moist-soil managed wetland plant species

Daniel P. Collins, Warren C. Conway, Corey D. Mason, Jeffrey W. Gunnels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Moist-soil wetland management is used to precisely control delivery, duration, and timing of water addition to, and removal from, managed wetlands with targeted responses including germination and growth of desirable moist-soil plant species. Similarly, water delivery and removal drives decomposition of moist-soil plants as well as nutrient cycling within these systems, which is a key driver of productivity in such managed wetlands. Through deployment of litter bags, we examined rate of mass loss and decay coefficients of three locally abundant moist-soil annual species that are potentially valuable wintering-waterfowl food sources (nodding smartweed Persicaria lapathifolia, red-rooted flatnut sedge Cyperus erythrorhizos, and toothcup Ammannia coccinea) within man-made moist-soil managed wetlands on the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area in East-central Texas. All three species lost nearly 100% of their mass during an 11-mo deployment period, where rate of mass lost and decay coefficient rates were driven by time, because all moist-soil managed wetlands used were inundated for the duration of this study. Plant materials exposed to persistent inundation in shallow wetlands exhibited rates of mass loss typical of the first two stages of decomposition, during which a majority of plant material mass was lost. However, during this study, typical inundation and drawdown regimes were not implemented, which may have delayed or prolonged decomposition processes, because litter bags of focal species were inundated for the duration of this study. Both locally and regionally specific moist-soil management hydroperiod manipulation should include both drawdown and inundation, to incorporate temporal transitions between these conditions. Such practices will allow wetland managers to more expeditiously meet plant management and waterfowl food production goals within moist-soil managed wetlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-111
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Fish and Wildlife Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015


  • Decomposition
  • Moist-soil managed wetlands
  • Moist-soil plant species
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Texas


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