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Sedge Meadows

Community Description

Sedge meadows were defined by Curtis to be "an open community of wet soils, where more than half the dominance is contributed by sedges rather than grasses." The ground in these meadows is frequently flooded in the spring and dries out throughout the rest of the growing season. The soil is generally either sedge peat or muck produced by the decomposition of this peat.

These meadows can be found throughout the state. In the north they tend to be confined to the edges of lakes and streams, while in the south they can often colonize larger extinct lake beds and thus occupy much larger portions of the landscape.

As the name suggests these communities are dominated by a variety of sedges including Carex grayi, Carex lupulina, and Carex stricta. Sedges constitute the largest Genus in Wisconsin and thus display a wide variety of variation.

Researcher Lineage

Original PEL Results

The results of their initial surveys included 79 sites, 34 of which were north of the tension zone. When the site survey details were analyzed they found that the moisture gradients and pH gradients both showed substantial differences between northern and southern sedge meadows. Northern meadows tended to be wetter and more acidic than their southern relatives. For this reason Curtis asserted that these two types needed to be distinguished clearly in future research if meaningful environmental gradients were to be constructed.

A structural account of the sedge meadows was developed using a colleague's publication (Stout 1914). The southern meadows composition was found to be 63% Carex. This constitution strongly affects the formation of "hummocks" commonly observed in these communities. These hummocks are small raised islands of plants which are believed to aid the plants during the early spring when the meadow is inundated with water. The specific function of these hummocks remains unresolved.

Contemporary Results

These sites have yet to be revisited

For more information on these communities please refer to the following websites