Adaptive Restoration Research in Great Lakes Coastal Wetlands

 
Our long-term cattail harvesting experiment in marsh in Cheboygan, MI.

Our long-term cattail harvesting experiment in marsh in Cheboygan, MI.

Housed in Loyola University Chicago's Institute of Environmental Sustainability, the Restoration Ecology research group, (a.k.a. “Team Typha”) has been studying Great Lakes coastal wetlands under the leadership of Dr. Nancy Tuchman since the turn of the century. We use a systems approach that integrates biogeochemistry, plant ecology, and community ecology to try to understand how invasive plant species like hybrid cattails and phragmites impact wetland biodiversity in the Great Lakes region. More recently, we have incorporated applied restoration and sustainability research into our work. We approach restoration with the perspective that long-term ecosystem management should try to address both the symptoms and the underlying causes of environmental change.

To this end, we are focusing on improving habitat structure in invaded wetlands to better facilitate the use of these important habitats by breeding and migratory birds and spawning fish. We are also studying whether a long-term regime of mechanical vegetation removal has the potential to reverse the eutrophied nutrient condition caused by legacy phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. There is strong evidence that emergent macrophyte invasion is facilitated by excess nutrients. If a wetlands nutrient levels can be restored to historic levels, it may cause a shift in the plant community dynamics that favor invasive species.

Our group has a strong record of collaborative science, outreach, and student mentorship. It is our mission to not only improve the quality of Great Lakes ecosystems, but also to share our excitement about science and nature with students and citizens in our region. Questions? Feel free to get in touch!