A Vegetation Survey of Teaneck Creek Wetlands
by Beth Ravit1, Linda Rohleder2, Lea Johnson2, Joan Ehrenfeld3, and Peter Kallin4
1Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
2Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolution, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
3Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
4Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, P.O. Box 250, Belgrade Lake, Maine 04918
A project goal for the restoration of Teaneck Creek wetlands is to establish native plant communities within these rehabilitated wetland areas and to eliminate or control the spread of invasive plants. To determine the location of the existing native vegetation and to characterize the substrate quality (native hydric soils versus fill materials) and moisture (wet versus dry) associated with this plant community, we visually identified and ranked the abundance of the flora on the site. Using the New Jersey Coefficient of Conservatism (NJ CC), we calculated a Floristic Quality Assessment Index (FQAI) for twenty-nine 100-meter by 100-meter sampling units. Plant diversity was found to be high (245 species) compared to other New Jersey urban wetlands, and native species comprised 60% of the total number of plant species observed. Two thirds of the total number of tree and shrub species were native, while only half the vine/forb/herb species were native. Introduced species were found to have invaded a minimum of 30% of each sampling unit and a maximum of over 50% in a Phragmites-dominated interior area, where plant diversity was the lowest seen on the site. The ten highest FQAI-value native species were predominantly wetland plants. A comparison of the FQAI value with the soil type and moisture properties indicates that wet soils may be the more important of the two variables in structuring the existing vegetation at this site. The FQAI score identified a high quality wetland area that must be guarded from disturbance during restoration activities. The FQAI score, in combination with soil properties and/or moisture content, will be used to inform the decision-making process as the Teaneck Creek wetland Conceptual Restoration Plan is developed.
Keywords: Urban, wetland, native, invasive, Floristic Quality Assessment Index, diversity, restoration, hydrology, Conceptual Restoration Plan