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Patuxent Science Meeting 2006 Poster Abstract

Herbivory by resident geese: the loss and recovery of wild rice along

the tidal Patuxent River

Haramis GM, Kearns G (MD NCPPC)

Well known for a fall spectacle of maturing wild rice (Zizania aquatica) and migrant waterbirds,

the tidal freshwater marshes of the Patuxent River, Maryland, experienced a major decline of

wild rice during the decade of the 1990s. Experiments conducted in 1999 and 2000 with fenced

exclosures revealed herbivory by resident Canada geese (Branta canadensis). Grazing by

geese eliminated rice outside exclosures, while protected plants achieved greater size, higher

density, and produced more panicles than rice occurring in natural stands. This widespread

loss of rice reflects both the sensitivity of this annual plant to herbivory and the destructive

nature of an overabundance of resident geese on natural marsh vegetaqtion. Restoration of rice

followed two management actions: hunting removal of ca. 1,700 geese during a 4-year period

and re-establishment of rice through a large scale fencing and planting program.

Friday, September 22, 2006



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