Wetlands provide important ecosystem functions and values, such as wildlife habitat, water filtration and flood protection. Wetland plant communities play a fundamental role in maintaining these functions but are thought to be increasingly threatened by human modifications of the landscape, such as deforestation and road construction. Here, we examine the quantitative relationships between two dependent variables (plant species richness, community composition) and a set of independent variables describing land use (e.g., forest cover, road density, and building density). As independent variables, we further include wetland characteristics that may be related to landuse practices (e.g., area and nutrient status). Wetland size is the most important predictor of both total plant species richness and the species richness within most functional groups. In addition, landscape properties, such as forest cover, presence of streams and nutrient status of water and sediment are significant predictors of plant species richness. Adjacent land use 250–300 m from the wetland affects plant diversity. Differences in the land-use-diversity relationship among different plant functional groups suggest that adjacent land use affects wetland plant communities in two important ways. First, it alters the abundance and distribution of propagules in adjoining habitats. Second, it alters the number of dispersal routes. Our results suggest that current management practices are inadequate and that regulation of adjacent land use is a critical component of wetland conservation.
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Vol. 26 • No. 1