Differences in flooding tolerance between species from two wetland habitats with contrasting hydrology: implications for vegetation development in future floodwater retention areas
until further notice
Number of pages
SourceAnnals of Botany, 103, 2, (2009), pp. 341-351
Article / Letter to editor
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Experimental Plant Ecology
Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology
Philosophy and Science Studies
Centre for Sustainable Management of Resources
Annals of Botany
SubjectAquatic Ecology; Department of Sustainable Management of Resources; Philosophy and Science Studies; Plant Ecology
* Background and Aims - Plants need different survival strategies in habitats differing in hydrological regimes. This probably has consequences for vegetation development when former floodplain areas that are currently confronted with soil flooding only, will be reconnected to the highly dynamical river bed. Such changes in river management are increasingly important, especially at locations where increased water retention can prevent flooding events in developed areas. It is therefore crucial to determine the responses of plant species from relatively lowdynamic wetlands to complete submergence, and to compare these with those of species from river forelands, in order to find out what the effects of such landscape-scale changes on vegetation would be. * Methods - To compare the species’ tolerance to complete submergence and their acclimation patterns, a greenhouse experiment was designed with a selection of 19 species from two contrasting sites: permanently wet meadows in a former river foreland, and frequently submerged grasslands in a current river foreland. The plants were treated with short (3 weeks) and long (6 weeks) periods of complete submergence, to evaluate if survival, morphological responses, and changes in biomass differed between species of the two habitat. * Key Results - All tested species inhabiting river forelands were classified as tolerant to complete submergence, whereas species from wet meadows showed either relatively intolerant, intermediate or tolerant responses. Species from floodplains showed in all treatments stronger shoot elongation, as well as higher production of biomass of leaves, stems, fine roots and taproots, compared with meadow species. * Conclusions - There is a strong need for the creation of temporary water retention basins during high levels of river discharge. However, based on the data presented, it is concluded that such reconnection of former wetlands (currently serving as meadows) to the main river bed will strongly influence plant species composition and abundance.
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