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Plant Ecology

Forest and Land

man in red kayak on lake with green plants in foreground

Program Contact: Carol Reschke,, (218) 788-2738

The Plant Ecology program focuses on gathering essential data on vegetation composition, distribution and plant ecology of terrestrial, wetland and aquatic habitats in Minnesota and the western Great Lakes region. Data is used for assessment of habitat conditions, monitoring habitat restoration progress, evaluating distributions of invasive plants and developing invasive plants management methods. This program analyzes vegetation data to classify and describe plant communities, map vegetation patterns and develops spatial data and models in support of management and restoration of terrestrial, wetland and aquatic habitats. 

Current Projects

  • Evaluate microbial communities and nutrients associated with wild rice and competing vegetation. The goal is to enhance restoration efforts in wetlands where wild rice has been displaced by competing emergent aquatic plants. Funding: Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources 
  • Evaluate conditions of fish and wildlife habitats in the St. Louis River estuary (AOC) by analysis of aquatic plant communities. Evaluation of relationships between vegetation, disturbance and environmental patterns to inform management and ecological restoration efforts. This is an ongoing effort to refine metrics for evaluating vegetation condition using data collected for projects in the St. Louis River Area of Concern in collaboration with the Minnesota DNR, MPCA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Funding: Minnesota Lake Superior Coastal Program

Recent Projects

  • Assessment of distribution patterns of invasive plant species at public water access sites in St. Louis County. Evaluation of landscape, spatial and environmental data for patterns useful for early detection of aquatic invasive plants. Funding: St. Louis County
  • Research on factors limiting growth of aquatic plants in unvegetated restoration sites within the St. Louis River Area of Concern. Evaluation of impacts of contaminated sediments, contaminated water, browsing and other disturbances on the growth of aquatic plants. Funding: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Lake Superior Coastal Program