Because the landscape of the Meadowlands has been highly altered and polluted, many of the plants are common, weedy species, and many species that are rare or uncommon in northeastern New Jersey appear to be absent. There is, nonetheless, a rich flora in the Meadowlands, including many native species. A list of plants of the Meadowlands is in Table 1, derived from the database of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Metropolitan Flora Project. Other lists of the Meadowlands flora include an original flora and compilation from other sources in Sipple (1972) and a compilation in USACOE (2000). Because many areas of the Meadowlands are difficult of access, we expect that additional botanical surveys will discover species not included in Table 1 or other flora lists. Two rare species, wafer-ash and violet bush-clover, occur at Laurel Hill (see Site Descriptions, above). Other rare native species (e.g. rare grasses, sedges, rushes, dodders, composites, mustards) may yet be found by careful field work. Urban-industrial influences do not preclude the occurrence of rare plants, many of which currently occur in New York City, for example.
Common Reed and other Invasive Plants
A review of Meadowlands biology would not be complete without a discussion of invasive plants. We use the term “invasive plants” to denote either native or introduced species that establish and spread aggressively at the expense of native plants and plant communities, and that have the potential to significantly alter ecological functions including habitat functions for other biota and ecological processes such as nutrient cycling, energy flow, and disturbance regimes. Plants may also be considered invasive because they alter aesthetic or scenic values of the landscape, or rapidly change plant communities to which people are accustomed. Plant invasions are considered of great importance because they may threaten rare or endangered plant and animal species and affect economic productivity associated with, for example, agriculture, fisheries, and public health.
Those invasive plants of greatest concern in the Meadowlands (USFWS et al. 2000) include common reed, purple loosestrife, mugwort, tree-of-heaven, and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica [Polygonum cuspidatum or Reynoutria japonica]). Mugwort occurs mostly on artificial mineral soils (e.g. fill) at an early stage of vegetation development. Japanese knotweed does not seem especially abundant in the Meadowlands and does not seem to be invading marshes there; it is mostly a weed of roadsides and vacant lots (EK, personal observations 1999-2001). In addition to Japanese knotweed, the similar Polygonum sacchalinense also occurs in the Meadowlands (EK, personal observation). Common reed appears to be the most abundant plant overall in the Meadowlands and probably accounts for the greatest number of stems and highest peak standing crop and annual production of any herbaceous vascular plant there. There is a prevalent perception in the Meadowlands and elsewhere in the northeastern U.S. that common reed has only negative impacts on animals (especially fishes and birds) and in general lacks values to society. The text that follows questions prevalent interpretations of common reed ecology in the Meadowlands, and offers a brief summary of recent research and observations on the ecological functions and values of reed stands that are relevant to Meadowlands biodiversity. The purpose of this discussion is to provide a perspective for our review of the biota of the Meadowlands, much of which has a direct or indirect relationship to common reed. This discussion is adapted from Kiviat (2000; submitted b) and is intended to present important recent findings but is not a comprehensive review.
Plant communities dominated by common reed are found throughout the Meadowlands (Sipple 1972). Common reed is a native species in New Jersey including the Meadowlands; it has been found deep in peat profiles, indicating it was a member of the local flora in pre-European times (see Waksman 1942), probably since the early Holocene. Reed became much more abundant and dominant in the Meadowlands during the 1900s, as also occurred in many other areas of the northeastern U.S. There is recent genetic evidence indicating that a majority of the reed stands in the northeastern states represent a genotype of introduced European origin (Kristin Saltonstall, Yale University, 2001 personal communication to EK). The extent to which the invasion of reed in the past century has been due to human impacts on the environment or to recently introduced genotypes is unclear (see Kiviat and Hamilton 2001). Both genetics and environment must be considered in order to understand and manage this species.
The plant diversity and species composition of common reed stands in the Meadowlands and elsewhere vary greatly depending upon salinity, duration of tidal inundation, muskrat activities, and site history (among other factors). On portions of the Carlstadt-Moonachie site, for example, in 2000 and 2001 we found reed stands that were virtually pure, i.e. there were only scattered occurrences of other vascular plants beneath the reed canopy and many hypothetical one-square-meter plots would have contained only reed. At other locations, reed occurred in mixed stands. On the west side of the Paterson Lateral gas pipeline road in the northern end of the site, common reed formed a matrix complexly interspersed with patches dominated by bluejoint grass and supporting several forb species. On the north side of Paterson Plank Road, in an area where reed had been cut annually for years (see Human Use, below) and had also burned as recently as about March 2000, there were at least 18 other plant species beneath a dominant reed canopy. At other sites, we have seen reed stands containing a low density of woody plants, such as tree-of-heaven, princess tree, and common elderberry. Reed at wetland edges (e.g. the western edge of Kearny Marsh West) is commonly colonized by vines of many species. McCormick & Associates (1978) described “common reed / marsh fleabane grassland” with common reed, marsh-fleabane, water-hemp, orache(?), saltmarsh cordgrass, and American threesquare (Scirpus pungens [S. americanus]). The factors shaping reed stands cause them to vary through time as well as across space; stands in which reed is highly dominant today may become more diverse in the future (or vice versa) depending on deposition and erosion of sediments, fire, changes in hydrology and salinity, and other factors. The variety characterizing different reed stands has been omitted from most discussions of common reed in the Meadowlands. This variation is especially important in any consideration of common reed as habitat for birds and other animals.
Interspersion of emergent vegetation and “open” water is an important stand characteristic affecting habitat functions. Variation in substrate elevation (flooding depth) is also important. Creeks, ditches, impoundments, erosion and deposition of sediments, animal activities, off-road vehicle tracks, and fires all influence interspersion. Reed stands that appear homogeneous from the edge may have pools, ditches, depressions, berms, and other hidden features important to plant and animal community structure. The Carlstadt-Moonachie site has ditches, creeks, ponding associated with creeks, off-road vehicle tracks, and variations in substrate elevation, most of which can be discerned only by walking through the reed stands (B. Sheehan, personal communication to EK, 2000; EK and KM, personal observations, 2000-2001). Kearny Marsh West, deeply flooded by accidental impoundment, is undergoing fragmentation of the reed stands apparently due to stress from deep water, wind waves, and consumption of reed underground parts by European carp and muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus). Where patches of reed have died, peat has rafted to the water surface and is being colonized by marsh-fleabane and purple loosestrife (EK and KM, personal observations, 2000).
Reed stands are capable of producing large quantities of organic matter, much of which may accumulate in situ as litter and ultimately peat beneath the stand (Windham 2001). Reed stands may also cause increased deposition of organic and mineral suspended solids from waters flowing through the stand (Rooth and Stevenson 2000). Substrate elevation may thus increase relatively rapidly beneath reed stands, resulting in reduced depth and duration of flooding by tides or runoff (Berger 1992 referred to this process in the Meadowlands without documentation). Increasing elevation may eventually result in “terrestrialization” of reed stands, that is, a shift from wetland to non-wetland (this process has not been rigorously documented in North America as far as we know). In theory, a marsh surface should reach an equilibrium of deposition of organic and mineral matter vs. decomposition and erosion; however, this dynamic has not been studied in the Meadowlands and is presumably subject to human alterations of the hydrological, sedimentary, and fire regimes, as well as the potentially different time scales of different processes. Decreased flooding is believed to result in less export of marsh plant detritus to estuarine waters, thus shifting organic matter and food web interactions from the open water estuarine system to the marsh soils. In East Coast tidal marshes, however, patterns of exchange of organic matter between tidal marshes and estuarine waters are highly variable (J. Ehrenfeld, personal communication to EK and KM, 2001), and it is unclear what patterns would be normal in the Meadowlands. Presumably export of detritus occurs even now during severe flooding from storms, and the relative importance of this process needs study in the Meadowlands.
Living and dead organic matter of reeds supports food webs in the reed stands. Components of these food webs include terrestrial and aquatic organisms that feed on living reed (e.g. mealy plum aphid [Hyalopterus pruni], reed scale [Chaetococcus phragmitis], broadwing skipper [Poanes viator], muskrat) and dead reed material (e.g. fungi, terrestrial sowbug, chironomid midges, other invertebrates), as well as animals eating the primary consumers and each other (presumably ladybugs, fiddler crabs, grass shrimp [Palaemonetes], mummichog (Fundulus heteroclitus) and other marsh fishes, northern harrier, many marsh and water birds, etc.). Limited research indicates that reed detritus is as good or better than saltmarsh cordgrass detritus as food for major detritus-feeding tidal marsh animals (fiddler crab, grass shrimp, and mummichog), and that these animals do not consistently select one plant community over the other in laboratory experiments (Weis 2000, Weis and Weis 2000).
Reed is more effective at immobilizing metals than is saltmarsh cordgrass. Saltmarsh cordgrass accumulates copper, chromium, lead, and zinc from contaminated sediments. Release of these four metals from cordgrass leaves was greater than from reed leaves in both laboratory and field (at a Meadowlands site) (Burke et al. 2000). Also, cordgrass accumulated higher levels of chromium and lead in its leaves than reed, therefore cordgrass is expected to mobilize these metals more through decomposition of leaves (Burke et al. 2000). In the laboratory, allocation of lead was greater in aboveground biomass in saltmarsh cordgrass and greater in belowground biomass in common reed, indicating that reed is sequesters more lead belowground which would lead to permanent burial rather than remobilization during decomposition of plant tissues (Windham et al. 2001).
Reed stands burn readily, especially in spring. Stalter (1984) studied plant communities on garbage landfills in New York City, and implied that reed stands burn more intensely than other landfill vegetation. These fires kill woody plants and help maintain reed vegetation (Stalter 1984). Some reed fires in the Meadowlands also threaten buildings and create smoke that is a hazard to motorists on high-speed highways such as the Turnpike (e.g. Wakin 2001). Research is needed on the relative frequency and intensity of fires in reed, and the fire hazard to buildings and other cultural features, associated with reed stands compared to other wetland or upland plant communities in the Meadowlands. Because fires on organic soils ignite methane generated from soil organic matter, fires on marshes with organic soils burn intensely irrespective of plant community (E. Hartig, personal communication to EK, 2002). Spring fires remove the previous year’s standing dead reed stems, making burned patches accessible to animals that forage, roost, or nest on bare soil or in sparse low vegetation. Spring burns may diversify the structure of reed stands. Summer burns that have been studied in other regions (e.g. the Delta Marshes of Manitoba, Ward ) burn into soil and reed underground parts, lowering substrate elevation and killing patches of reed. We do not know if this occurs in the Meadowlands. The potential for fire to change characteristics of vegetation, soil, hydrology, and animal use in reed stands suggests that fire management should be studied as a component of reed management.
The dense aboveground parts of common reed retard water flows and absorb energy from storm waters during floods. Reed is a highly productive and nutrient “hungry” species that binds nutrients in living and dead plant matter (Meyerson et al. 2000). That reed is excellent for amelioration of surface water quality is evidenced by its frequent use (outside the Meadowlands) in wetlands constructed for wastewater treatment. Values of reed stands in modulating flood flows and ameliorating water quality have not been measured for the Meadowlands but are likely considerable (see e.g. HMDC 1974). Uptake and sequestration of nutrients from waters by reed would depend on patterns of water flow (J. Ehrenfeld, personal communication to EK and KM, 2001). Reed stands separated from tidal flow by flood control berms, dikes, or other features will not normally remove nutrients from tidal waters; however, nutrient removal from stormwater runoff may still occur.
Common reed traps and accumulates mineral and organic matter efficiently, and in a Chesapeake Bay study area was better than saltmarsh cordgrass at stabilizing soils and preventing erosion and marsh loss (Rooth and Stevenson 2000). Reed stands along the Hackensack River mainstem and major tributaries presumably help bind soils and maintain integrity of banks. Soil stability in the Meadowlands will become a more important concern as sea level continues to rise, and also if motorized recreational boating increases. The high production of living and dead organic matter by reed stands, and the accumulation of portions of this material in soils beneath reed (Windham 2001), suggest that reed might be important as a carbon sink. Carbon accumulation in sediments vs. losses to air and water may vary greatly (J. Ehrenfeld, personal communication), and carbon balance has not been studied in Meadowlands marshes.
There has been remarkably little research on habitat functions of common reed in North America, and virtually all of this work has been conducted in tidal marshes rather than nontidal marshes or upland reed stands. Furthermore, many studies are limited by lack of replication at the level of the stand or the site (i.e. these studies have been conducted in very limited areas). Dense reed stands obstruct vision and movement of observers (e.g. Wander and Wander 1995), discouraging biological studies of stand interiors. Nonetheless, a picture of the habitat functions of reed has begun to emerge.
Invertebrates. Most studies of invertebrate use of reed stands in North America have begun recently, and to date most quantitative work has been done in tidal marshes. Several studies of reed stands in New York and New England indicate favorable habitat for mollusks, spiders, phytophagous mites, and certain insects (reviewed in Meyerson et al. 2000). Terrestrial insects associated with reed in North America were reviewed by Schwarzlander and Hafliger (1999); however, little research has been conducted on the insect fauna of reed on this continent.Trial sampling of litter in reed and narrowleaf cattail in a Hudson River fresh-tidal marsh suggests mites, springtails, and other invertebrates are abundant and diverse in both plant communities (E. Kiviat, unpublished data). In a Chesapeake Bay study, Meyer et al. (2001) found that 3 important decapod crustaceans (blue crab [Callinectes sapidus], mud crab, and grass shrimp) ranked about equally in abundance and biomass in reed compared to saltmarsh cordgrass samples in May, July, and October. An uncommon crab (Dyspanopeus sayi), however, was found only in cordgrass. In brackish marshes of the Hudson River, blue crab was equally abundant in reed and alternate plant communities at similar marsh surface elevations (D. Yozzo, personal communication to EK, 2001). Grass shrimp was more abundant in reed stands than in cattail on tidal marshes of the Connecticut River (Fell et al., submitted). Reed had a more diverse benthic macroinvertebrate community than saltmarsh cordgrass, whereas abundance of invertebrates was equal in both plant communities, at a Meadowlands site (Weis et al., submitted). Robertson and Weis (2002) found that saltmarsh cordgrass supported a higher density of epifauna than reed at sites in the Meadowlands and on Long Island. Cordgrass supported more harpacticoid copepods than reed, and at one site reed supported more mites. Woolcott and Weis (2002) found equal abundance of grass shrimp and blue crab in reed vs. saltmarsh cordgrass at Sawmill Creek in the Meadowlands. In the laboratory, two species of fiddler crabs (Uca pugnax and U. pugilator) and grass shrimp performed equally on diets of reed vs. saltmarsh cordgrass (Weis et al. 2002).
Fish. Although one group of studies has shown greater abundance and diversity of fishes in saltmarsh cordgrass compared to common reed (Able 1999, Able and Hagan 2000), and it has been hypothesized that common reed invasion smooths microtopography (Windham and Lathrop 1999), making tidal marshes less suitable as fish habitat (Weinstein and Balletto 1999), studies by Fell et al. (1998), Wainright et al. (2000), Weinstein et al. (2000), Weis (2000), Weis and Weis (2000), Able et al. (2001), Meyer et al. (2001), and others indicate that some tidal reed marshes are good fish habitat, fish use of common reed and alternate plant communities does not differ greatly, and reed contributes substantially to fish food chains in some areas. These studies have used field surveys, laboratory and field experiments, historical surveys, and stable isotope analyses to demonstrate the comparability of reed and alternate plant communities as fish habitat. Able (submitted), however, has stated that generally juvenile and adult fish use of reed and saltmarsh cordgrass stands is similar, and that mummichog spawns in both reed and cordgrass stands, but that mummichog larvae do not thrive in reed stands. Twice as many subadult and adult mummichogs were found in saltmarsh cordgrass compared to reed in Sawmill Creek (Meadowlands) (Woolcott and Weis 2002). Because the mummichog is highly dominant in the upper intertidal zone and supratidal zone fish community of northeastern tidal marshes across a broad range of salinity, a negative influence on mummichog population dynamics could have substantial ramifications through the ecosystem. Research on fish use of reed compared to alternate plant communities has not been conducted in nontidal marshes.
Birds: Many bird species have been reported breeding in common reed stands in North America (Meyerson et al. 2000; Kiviat et al., submitted b). In a few cases, reed stands have been described as less or more favorable for certain bird species than alternate plant communities, but little quantitative information is available. Notably, in high salt marsh communities of southern New England, 3 species of habitat-specialists (saltmarsh sharp-tailed sparrow, seaside sparrow, and willet) breed in saltmeadow cordgrass but do not breed in reed (Benoit and Askins 1999, Shriver and Vickery 2001). The great height of reed compared to other marsh graminoids (cordgrasses, cattails, etc.) provides a different habitat for birds; reed in vigorous stands in the Meadowlands may be 3.6-4.5 m tall (Bontje 1988). Reed stands in the Meadowlands are, in fact, used by many species of breeding and nonbreeding birds (USEPA and Gannett Fleming 1992, Quinn 1997, USACOE 2000, Kane 2001a, b). The bird fauna of Meadowlands reed stands includes populations of common and rare species, some of considerable regional significance. Extensive reed stands lacking pools or mudflats are unfavorable foraging habitat for peregrine falcon (Endangered) (Wander and Wander 1995).
Mammals. Reed stands can be favorable habitat for muskrat (e.g. Quinn 1997; Kiviat et al. submitted a and references cited therein), as well as for other small mammals (Svihla 1929, 1930, Holland and Smith 1980, McGlynn and Ostfeld 2000). Large mammals may also use reed stands; these species include white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), black bear (Ursus americanus), and others (Kiviat et al., submitted a). Although muskrat is the most prominent reed mammal in New Jersey, other species that use reed stands in the Meadowlands include opossum (Didelphis marsupialis), raccoon (Procyon lotor), white-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus), meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius), Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus), house mouse (Mus musculus), and eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) (Rawson 1993, Quinn 1997; Berger Group 2001, M. A. Thiesing, personal communication to EK, 1999; EK, personal observations). We have seen no data on relative population density or productivity of Norway rat or house mouse in reed compared to alternate plant communities in the Meadowlands; this comparison could have implications for public health.
Plants. Reed can form either mixed stands or dense, highly dominant stands. Dense stands may contain few other vascular plants (e.g. Meyerson et al. 2000). Therefore, it is believed that reed dominance reduces plant diversity. Some alternate plant communities (e.g. cattail marsh, low salt marsh) are also typically hyperdominant and have few other plant species, whereas other communities (e.g. salt meadows, freshwater wet meadows) may have high species richness of vascular plants. In some estuaries (e.g. Connecticut River) reed is considered a threat to rare plant species. There are examples of rare plants in the edges of reed stands in New York where the rare species appear to be facilitated by reed (EK, personal observations). In most cases it is not known whether underlying problems, such as hydrological alteration, pollution, or intensive livestock grazing, caused the loss of rare plants or native plant communities before or during reed invasion. In the Meadowlands, it is possible that habitat alteration and pollution were as important, or more important, than reed in the elimination of most rare plant species that may once have occurred. (To date, very few state-listed rare plants have been found in the Meadowlands, and we have found no evidence that rare plants are more likely to occur in alternate plant communities than in reed stands.). Reed may also not be the only, or the ultimate, cause of the loss of salt meadow communities in the Meadowlands; changes in hydrology, salinity, water quality, livestock grazing, other fauna, mosquito ditching, or salt hay harvesting, may have played a role. Nonetheless, reed invasion of salt meadows may be one of the most important negative impacts reed has on native biological diversity.
Reed reduces accessibility of certain areas to people, and this can benefit wildlife by creating de facto refuges. Reed can also inhibit access by larger predatory mammals and birds, which can help smaller animals including some of the wetland-dependent bird species. Reed is beneficial to some animals and detrimental to others, and this varies according to characteristics of the reed stands and other characteristics within and between sites.
Human use. Common reed was one of the herbaceous plants most highly used by North American Indians (Kiviat and Hamilton 2001). A historical exhibit in the Hackensack Meadowlands Development Commission headquarters shows Native Americans with a fish net woven from common reed, but we were unable to discover the source of this information. Hasidic Jews (and possibly other Jews) annually harvest common reed for thatching succot (ceremonial shelters used in the Feast of Tabernacles) (Anonymous 1993; B. Sheehan, personal communication to EK). Some or all of this harvest occurs on the Carlstadt-Moonachie site north of Paterson Plank Road. There is an area of floristically diverse mixed reed at this location that may be the result of the harvest and associated disturbances. It is unclear whether the reed at this location, due to repeated harvest, has properties particularly suitable for thatching. Reed was used historically in the Meadowlands as matting to support weight on marsh surfaces and in construction of berms and dikes for mosquito control projects (Headlee 1945). A border of reed was retained along the river margin at the Hartz Mountain reed removal project at Mill Creek to keep logs and other debris from rafting into, and damaging, the cordgrass plantings (K. Dunn, statement at 20 October 1998 NJMC wetland mitigation workshop). Gertler (1992) believed that extensive reed stands “soften” the appearance of the landfills of the Meadowlands, and Brooks (1957) related that extraneous industrial and agricultural odors were not noticeable when standing beneath the reeds.
Other invasive plants are also important components of the Meadowlands landscape. Tree-of-heaven may well be the most abundant woody plant. The ecology of tree-of-heaven has not been studied in the Meadowlands, and is poorly understood elsewhere in its non-native range in North America. Tree-of-heaven is abundant on mineral soil fill where the soil is either dry or wet (but not deeply flooded). The ability of this species to grow in wetland edges and wet meadows has not been well reported in the literature (see Kiviat submitted a). A good example of tree-of-heaven on wet substrates is at the tidal edge of the southern dike (trail) at Kingsland Impoundment in DeKorte Park (Lyndhurst). Here the tree bases are wet by brackish water at high tide. Tree-of-heaven is often found growing among common reed in wet meadows and on dry upland soils. Tree-of-heaven is apparently fire-sensitive (EK, personal observation) and it is easy to find dead, charred stems among thriving reed colonies. Some of these dead trees-of-heaven support macrofungi which in turn provide habitat for insects and other arthropods. Tree-of-heaven is browsed by cottontails during the dormant season (see Mammals, below), and seeds are eaten by northern cardinal (EK, personal observation). Some tree-of-heaven stands are being killed by a naturally-occurring fungus Verticillium dahliae in New York City (Emmerich et al. 1998); this phenomenon should be expected in the Meadowlands where it could effect important changes in the vegetation.
Usually few species of bryophytes survive in urban-industrial areas, and occurrence of mosses appears limited in the Meadowlands. In 2000-2001, EK collected mosses that appeared locally common on dry, disturbed soils, for example near the parking area of the New Jersey Turnpike Vince Lombardi service area, at the edges of the Paterson Lateral gas pipeline road at the Carlstadt-Moonachie site, in a dry dredge spoil meadow at Oritani Marsh, and on Laurel Hill. Specimens were identified by Nancy Slack (Russell Sage College). Several specimens were Ceratodon purpureus which is evidently common on dry, disturbed or artificial, mineral soils. Also on Laurel Hill were Brachythecium salebrosum, Bryum argenteum, and Dicranella sp. McCormick & Associates (1978) reported Dicranella from the site of the proposed Meadowlands Arena. We observed that moss cover was well-developed locally on soil in a common reed stand and a purple loosestrife stand, both on floating peat, at Kearny Marsh West in 2001. None of the mosses observed were sphagnums, which generally are intolerant of high nutrient levels and pollution. Mosses may be locally important soil binders and microhabitat for invertebrates in the Meadowlands. There has been little recent study of the moss flora of New Jersey; of 247 taxa, 40% are known only from historical collections (Karlin and Schaffroth 1992).
Little has been written about “algae” (including blue-green bacteria) in the Meadowlands, although these small organisms are undoubtedly important components of biological communities in the waters, on the soil surface, and on the bases of higher plant stems (including tree-of-heaven and reed; EK, personal observations). Mud algae, in particular, are likely to be important components of tidal marsh ecosystems due to the formation of large, productive mats on mudflats and creekbanks. Suspended algae were studied in the upper Hackensack River estuary (Foote 1983). Of 232 species found, minute centric diatoms were abundant in winter and green algae were prominent in summer. Species were those tolerant of organic pollution and low concentrations of salt. Utberg and Sutherland (1982) report that “warm summer temperatures were accompanied by a proliferation of submergent vegetation, particularly the green algae Cladophora sp. and Enteromorpha sp.” in a brackish marsh in Bergen County.
Fungi and Lichens
We have found no literature on fungi or lichens of the Hackensack Meadowlands. Casual collections by EK from dead stems and stumps of tree-of-heaven in 2001 revealed oyster mushroom (Pleurotus sapidus [P. ostreatus]), Trichaptum biforme, and Schizophyllum commune (specimens identified by Dwane Decker and Bill Bakaitis, Hudsonia Ltd.). These are common and widespread species outside the Meadowlands (E. Varney, personal communication to KM).
Certain lichens are good ecological indicators because of narrow habitat affinities, limited dispersal capabilities, and sensitivity to air quality (Hunter and Webb 2002), and lichens tend to be absent or rare in urban environments. In 2001, EK observed a foliose lichen on tree-of-heaven in the Kingsland Impoundment (DeKorte Park). EK also collected the foliose lichens Physciella chloantha from the base of an elm just above MHW at Hackensack River County Park, and Phaeophyscia imbricata from a large eastern cottonwood near Overpeck Creek. He found the fruticose lichen Cladonia polycarpoides in a dry dredge spoil meadow at Oritani Marsh, and C. polycarpoides as well as C. cristatella (British soldiers) on dry quarry tailings or dredge spoil at Laurel Hill. EK also collected Xanthoparmelia plittii from soil, and observed 2 crustose lichen species at Laurel Hill. Lichen specimens were identified by Robert Dirig (Bailey Hortorium, Cornell University). Macrofungi and a lichen on tree-of-heaven are interesting finds because of the limited ecological knowledge of this tree and its great abundance in the Meadowlands.