Riparian plant community composition is influenced by moisture, erosion, original native plant communities, and current and past land use. This study compared riparian plant communities under four types of management: woody buffer strip, grassy buffer strip, rotational grazing, and continuous grazing. Study sites were located along spring-fed streams in the unglaciated region of southwestern Wisconsin, USA. At each site, plant community surveys were conducted using a point transect method. Among the treatments, woody buffer strips, rotationally grazed and continuously grazed riparian areas had greater plant species richness than grassy buffer strips, and woody buffer strips had the greatest native plant species richness. Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea L.) was prevalent in grassy buffer strips (44% of all observations), common in woody buffer strips (15%), and rare in sites that were rotationally or continuously grazed (3 and 5%, respectively). Pasture sites had greater proportions of native grasses and grass relatives and moderate levels of overall native species richness. Considered a water quality best management practice, well-managed rotational grazing may be a reasonable alternative to buffer strips which can contribute to protection and enhancement of native vegetation biodiversity. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Comparison of riparian plant communities under four land management systems in southwestern Wisconsin