Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Karin M. Kettenring
Karin M. Kettenring
Timothy E. Walsworth
Aquatic ecosystems provide many critical and economically valuable benefits, including drinking water, food, recreational opportunities, and water supply for irrigation and agriculture. However, the health of these systems has been severely impacted by human activities such as pollution, land conversion, and introductions of harmful species. Restoring native aquatic plants can help reverse this damage and reestablish benefits, though it is not a common practice. With an objective to increase capacity for aquatic plant restoration in the Intermountain West, I identified and addressed two major barriers: 1) a lack of confidence in aquatic species identification among wetland professionals, and 2) underdeveloped planting techniques that can be used over large scales and result in successful plant establishment. To address the first barrier, I produced the "Floating and Submerged Plants of Utah: Pocket Field Guide." The guide contains identification information, images, and interesting facts about 36 aquatic species, as well as a key to the Pondweed family. To address the second barrier, I conducted two field experiments to identify successful and scalable planting techniques in a river delta in the Intermountain West. In these experiments, I examined the performance of different planting methods (how plants are introduced to a site) and planting designs (how plants are arranged within a site; clumped and dispersed designs) for two types of plant materials (stem fragments and plugs—adult plants in soil). I found that planting methods had a significant effect on plant establishment across the plant material types for one of the native species tested, Ruppia cirrhosa, but not the other two species, Potamogeton nodosus and Stuckenia pectinata. I did not find significant effects of planting design. Based on these findings, I suggest that wetland professionals carefully pair different species with planting methods to balance scalability and plant establishment. I also suggest that logistical considerations (such as site accessibility), rather than potential ecological differences (such as species-specific traits that may affect plant establishment), can guide planting design choices. Addressing these barriers will increase the capacity for aquatic plant restoration in the Intermountain West and subsequently support the health of aquatic ecosystems.
Sinnott, Kate A., "Overcoming Barriers to Aquatic Plant Restoration: Addressing Gaps in Species Identification and Planting Techniques in the Intermountain West" (2023). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations, Spring 1920 to Summer 2023. 8901.
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