Seasonal timing of inundation affects riparian plant growth and flowering: Implications for riparian vegetation composition

Joe Greet, Roger D Cousens, J. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Changes to the timing of peak river flows caused by flow regulation affect riparian vegetation composition, but the mechanisms driving such vegetation changes are not well understood. We investigated experimentally the effects of timing of inundation on riparian plant growth and flowering. We collected 168 sods from 14 sites across five lowland rivers in south-eastern Australia. Plant cover and flowering within the sods were surveyed each season for a year. During this period, sods were inundated for 6 weeks in either early spring or in summer. Terrestrial plant taxa (which included most exotic species) senesced in response to inundation, regardless of its timing. In contrast, native amphibious species (particularly amphibious forbs) responded favourably to inundation in spring, but were unaffected by inundation in summer. Native and exotic emergent macrophytes responded favourably to inundation regardless of timing, and flowered frequently in both the spring- and the summer-inundation treatments. In contrast, many native annuals flowered only in the spring-inundation treatment, while more exotic grasses flowered in the summer-inundation treatment. In temperate climates, inundation in early spring followed by non-flooded conditions is likely to be important for promoting the growth of amphibious forbs and the recruitment and flowering of riparian annuals. Without inundation in spring, many terrestrial exotic weeds may flourish and set seed prior to any subsequent inundation (e. g. in summer). We contend that natural seasonal timing (i. e. winter-early spring) of flow peaks is important for the maintenance of native riverbank vegetation and reducing the extent of terrestrial exotic species within the riparian zone. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-101
Number of pages15
JournalPlant Ecology
Volume214
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

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riparian vegetation
flowering
plant growth
vegetation
summer
peak flow
forbs
flow regulation
riparian zone
river flow
native species
weed
rivers
riparian areas
ground cover plants
grass
seed set
temperate zones
macrophytes
seed

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title = "Seasonal timing of inundation affects riparian plant growth and flowering: Implications for riparian vegetation composition",
abstract = "Changes to the timing of peak river flows caused by flow regulation affect riparian vegetation composition, but the mechanisms driving such vegetation changes are not well understood. We investigated experimentally the effects of timing of inundation on riparian plant growth and flowering. We collected 168 sods from 14 sites across five lowland rivers in south-eastern Australia. Plant cover and flowering within the sods were surveyed each season for a year. During this period, sods were inundated for 6 weeks in either early spring or in summer. Terrestrial plant taxa (which included most exotic species) senesced in response to inundation, regardless of its timing. In contrast, native amphibious species (particularly amphibious forbs) responded favourably to inundation in spring, but were unaffected by inundation in summer. Native and exotic emergent macrophytes responded favourably to inundation regardless of timing, and flowered frequently in both the spring- and the summer-inundation treatments. In contrast, many native annuals flowered only in the spring-inundation treatment, while more exotic grasses flowered in the summer-inundation treatment. In temperate climates, inundation in early spring followed by non-flooded conditions is likely to be important for promoting the growth of amphibious forbs and the recruitment and flowering of riparian annuals. Without inundation in spring, many terrestrial exotic weeds may flourish and set seed prior to any subsequent inundation (e. g. in summer). We contend that natural seasonal timing (i. e. winter-early spring) of flow peaks is important for the maintenance of native riverbank vegetation and reducing the extent of terrestrial exotic species within the riparian zone. {\circledC} 2012 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.",
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Seasonal timing of inundation affects riparian plant growth and flowering: Implications for riparian vegetation composition. / Greet, Joe; Cousens, Roger D; Webb, J.

In: Plant Ecology, Vol. 214, No. 1, 2013, p. 87-101.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Cousens, Roger D

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