Earth & Environmental Science Journalism:

Science Research Project

Jacoba is pictured above in one of the test plots of her study site. The image demonstrates how the young trees in the restoration plots replanted using high-density seeding of Elymus virginicus, were overwhelmed by this grass.

The effects of Elmyus virginicus seeding versus weed-control fabric on the recovery of native vegetation in an urban restoration project

Click here for a poster of Jacoba's study

Jacoba Charles


Municipal restoration projects offer ecologists an opportunity to study the effectiveness of a variety of restoration techniques. The New York City Parks Department carried out a project to restore native vegetation on the floodplain of an urban park in 2004.  Park managers used two techniques to prevent the re-establishment of invasive Fallopia japonica (formerly Polygonum cuspidatum) in restored areas: the installation of weed-control fabric and high-density seeding of Elymus virginicus.  The purpose of this study was to evaluate (i) whether the treatments were effective at controlling Fallopia; (ii) whether the recovery of native vegetation varied between the restoration treatments; and (iii), whether planted woody materials grew faster in either of the restoration treatments. Both treatments successfully controlled Fallopia, with cover in unrestored reference plots= 0.99 ± 0.002, cover in the fabric treated plots=0.16 ± 0.026 and cover in  Elymus treated plots= 0.04 ±0.27. Species richness was lowest in unrestored reference plots (1.44 ±0.15), and was lower in Elymus (5.44 ±0.56) than in fabric treated (7.83 ±0.77) plots.  Within the restored plots, there was significantly lower percent native cover in the Elymus treatments (0.27 ±0.030) than in fabric treatments (0.59 ±0.030). Mean height and crown spread of Cornus spp., Platanus occidentalis, and Quercus palustris were significantly greater for individuals planted in the fabric treated plots than in Elymus treated plots. In the critical early years of a restoration project, weed control fabric appears to be a superior restoration treatment to seeding with Elymus in degraded urban floodplains. 

Jacoba's study area in relation to the larger New York City area.

A map of the Bronx Forest Park capital restoration project that shows the study plot locations.


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Last updated: 19 January 2006, MKT.