Evaluating the Quality of a Disturbed Wetland in Southwestern Indiana: A Survey of Native and Exotic Flora at Vectren Conservation Park
Keywords:coefficient of conservatism, floristic quality index, invasive species, restoration, species diversity, wetlands
AbstractWetland stability promotes ecosystem services such as water purification and maintenance of biodiversity. These ecosystem services have been disrupted by anthropogenic degradation of natural habitats resulting in decreased biodiversity and the spread of introduced species. In Indiana, more than 87% of wetlands have been destroyed or degraded; those wetlands that remain are threatened by invasive species. To assess the need for restoration at Vectren Conservation Park in Southwest Indiana, a survey of the floral species present, as well as a study of the relative abundance of native and exotic species, was performed. The site includes more than 1100 acres of wetland habitat, including riparian forest, recently planted trees, and abandoned agricultural land. We collected 144 species from 109 genera, with 31 of the species being nonnative to Indiana. When including all native and non-native species, the floristic quality index (FQI) of the site was 23.5 and the mean coefficient of conservatism (Cav) was 2.0. The FQI and mean coefficient of conservatism (Cav) were relatively low compared to other sites found in Indiana, indicating few natural remnants remain at the site. Although highly degraded, the site is capable of supporting high quality native wetland species, which would result in the improvement of ecosystem services and buffer against more extensive establishment of non-native species.