Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Journal Title or Book Title

Urban Ecosystems







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The final publication is available at Springer via




Floyd Bennett Field (FBF), 579 ha in extent, is a division of Gateway National Recreation Area. It is the site of a former airfield, constructed by filling salt marshes with dredged materials. Except for the portion known locally as the “North Forty,” all sections of FBF have been cut over to maintain low vegetation. A grassland management plan (GRAMP) for 165 ha was initiated in 1986, to maintain habitats for open-country birds. Over the next few years, encroaching woody vegetation was removed manually and mechanically from the management area. Since then, it has been maintained as a grassland and receives annual mowing, as well as continued manual removal of the larger woody sprouts.

A portion of the GRAMP management area (III) was selected for intensive study of vegetation composition. A grid system was created and vegetation cover was estimated in 127, 1 m × 1 m quadrats. The quadrats were subjected to cluster analysis (CA). Eleven clusters were recognized. These clusters were treated as “plant associations.” The following types were distinguished: (native) little bluestem–dewberry grassland, six-weeks fescue annual grassland, a grass marsh, a rush marsh, a switchgrass dry grassland, and a deer-tongue panicgrass grassland; (exotic) mugwort herbland, oriental bittersweet-Japanese honeysuckle vineland, Kentucky bluegrass-mixed grassland, Japanese knotweed tall herbland, and spotted knapweed-common St. Johnswort herbland. The little bluestem–dewberry association accounted for nearly half of all quadrats; six subclusters were recognized. The plant associations determined by CA were compared with plant lists compiled during traverses of all of the map categories in the six GRAMP Areas (I, II, III, IV, V, VI). A table was created to relate the quantitative data of the plant associations to the appropriate map categories. A nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination (NMDS) was performed on the quadrat data. Finally, the plant associations were compared with those described in the literature of local vegetation studies. The mowing program has been effective in decreasing woody plant cover and has permitted the invasion of a few taxa into monospecific communities, but attendant disturbance of the substrate is likely to cause an increase in exotic plant taxa. As earlier studies noted, mowing has caused the increase in cover of sod-forming grass, and bare ground has virtually disappeared in the managed area. This has negative implications for the maintenance of those grassland bird species that require open ground for nesting.

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