• revegetation;
  • transplants;
  • sedges;
  • Carex;
  • meadow restoration;
  • riparian

Abstract The success of revegetation efforts in southwestern U.S. riparian meadows has been limited because natural recolonization is often poor and little is known about establishment of transplanted native meadow species such as sedges. To evaluate their potential use in riparian restoration, the survival and growth of transplanted wildlings of three sedge species, Carex lanuginosa (woolly sedge), C. nebrascensis (Nebraska sedge), and C. rostrata (beaked sedge), were assessed. Transplanting occurred during two seasons (summer and fall) using two transplant sizes (295 and 680 cm3) at seven montane meadow sites in Arizona. Survival was similar among species, but shoot numbers were greater for C. lanuginosa (12.7 shoots/wildling) compared with C. nebrascensis (5.5 shoots/wildling) and C. rostrata (7.9 shoots/wildling). Survival was significantly greater for the summer transplant season (55.1%) versus fall (24.1%). Survival and growth were greater for the larger transplant size (46.1% large vs. 33.0% small; 8.1 shoots/wildling large vs. 6.4 small). Wildling survival was related to depth to groundwater for each species. Survival was highest for C. lanuginosa (78.6%), C. nebrascensis (88.2%), and C. rostrata (64.3%) where the groundwater depth was −48 to −60, −28 to −47, and −8 to −27 cm, respectively. These results suggest that restoration will be most successful if transplanting occurs in summer, using large wildling transplants when under stressful conditions such as waterlogged or dry soils, and when species are planted at appropriate groundwater depths.