How wide to stream buffers need to be to reduce plant invasions?

Most riparian buffer regulations are set to reduce nutrient inputs to waterways, but riparian buffers also serve as habitat for native plants and animals.  Plant invasions can significantly alter riparian habitats.  A new paper by Ferris et al. looks at plant invasions along riparian corridors of different widths within the White Clay Creek Watershed in Pennsylvania and Delaware.   They find that wider areas (15 – 25 m wide and wider) had significantly lower rates of invasion by garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) and Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus).  However, even the widest areas were still invaded by Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora).

Ferris, G., V. D’Amico, and C. K. Williams. 2012. Determining effective riparian buffer width for nonnative plant exclusion and habitat enhancement.  International Journal of Ecology 2012. Available online: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijeco/2012/170931/


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