Alkali (Scirpus maritimus L.) and saltmarsh (S. robustus Pursh) bulrushes are closely related, emergent hydrophytes that are important as foods of waterfowl and other wildlife. Water depth, water level fluctuations, exposure, sediment and water salinity, and shading by taller emergents strongly affect growth and reproduction. Important management problems are inconsistent achene germination, difficulties with maintenance and timing of water level and salinity cycles, and acidification of sediments. Other serious problems are competition from other hydrophytes and the largely unpredictable effects of grazing, burning, tilling, and other land use practices. Recent management efforts have focused on thinning stands of the two bulrushes or intermixing them with stands of shorter emergents and submersed plants in order to increase the variety of food plants available to waterfowl and other birds. Information needed for more effective management includes the optimum size and vegetation interspersion of treated areas, treatment response, and the combined effects of natural disturbances such as grazing and burning. Control of a few salt-tolerant plants requires closure of some impoundments to the open sea for long periods. Such closures are of concern to fisheries managers, especially in areas where coastal marshes are disappearing. Conversely, in other managed wetlands, freshwater diverted from rivers pushes estuarine water seaward, making it difficult to obtain waters of sufficient salinity to control undesirable freshwater plants. Research and conservation thus need to be combined in many areas to improve management of these bulrushes.
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The alkali (Scirpus maritimus L.) and saltmarsh (S. robustus Pursh) bulrushes: a literature review