Intensive management of wetlands to improve wildlife habitat typically includes the manipulation of water depth, duration, and timing to promote desired vegetation communities. Increased societal, industrial, and agricultural demands for water may encourage the use of alternative sources such as wastewater effluents in managed wetlands. However, water quality is commonly overlooked as an influence on wetland soil seed banks and soils. In four separate greenhouse trials conducted over a 2-yr period, we examined the effects of municipal wastewater effluent (WWE) on vegetation of wetland seed banks and soils excavated from a wildlife management area in Missouri, USA. We used microcosms filled with one of two soil materials and irrigated with WWE, Missouri River water, or deionized water to simulate moist-soil conditions. Vegetation that germinated from the soil seed bank was allowed to grow in microcosms for approximately 100 d. Vegetative taxa richness, plant density, and biomass were significantly reduced in WWE-irrigated soil materials compared with other water sources. Salinity and sodicity rapidly increased in WWE-irrigated microcosms and probably was responsible for inhibiting germination or interfering with seedling development. Our results indicate that irrigation with WWE promoted saline-sodic soil conditions, which alters the vegetation community by inhibiting germination or seedling development.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2