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Community Ecology

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 59–72 | Cite as

A multivariate analysis examining the effect of landform on the distribution of riparian plant communities of Washington, USA

  • L. A. MollotEmail author
  • R. E. Bilby
  • D. M. Chapin
Article

Abstract

A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the influence of landform features on the distribution of vegetation on floodplains of major rivers. Considerably less work has examined this relationship along smaller channels in mountainous terrain. We utilized multivariate statistical techniques to examine the relationship between landform types and riparian plant floristics along small streams at the Cedar River Municipal Watershed in western Washington, USA. Riparian geomorphic surfaces were assigned to one of four landform classes based on topographic characteristics and position relative to the stream channel: low floodplain, high floodplain, terrace and hillslope. Landform exerted a strong influence on the distribution of tree, shrub and understory plant species. Certain taxa were found only on one or two of the landforms. Other species displayed a gradient in abundance across landforms. No single species occupied all landforms at the same level of abundance. The distribution patterns of species among the landforms suggested that primary drivers in the organization of the plant communities were moisture and susceptibility to disturbance. Plants preferring high moisture levels and resistant to the effects of fluvial disturbance typically were found on the floodplain landforms. Communities with hardwood-dominated over-stories and dense shrub understories were prevalent on these sites. Slopes and terraces supported species able to cope with drier conditions and those unable to persist with frequent disturbance. Conifers were prevalent only on these drier, infrequently-disturbed landforms. These results indicate that restoration measures to increase the presence of conifer trees in riparian areas, a common activity in the Pacific Northwest, should be applied only on landforms that would naturally support these species.

Keywords

Conifer restoration Fluvial disturbance Landform Ordination Riparian forest succession Riparian plant community Salmon habitat 

Abbreviations

CRMW

Cedar River Municipal Watershed

ISA

Indicator Species Analysis

IV

Indicator Value

MRPP

Multi-Response Permutation Procedures

NMS

Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling

WA

Weighted Averaging

Nomenclature

Hitchock and Cronquist 1976 

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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2008

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Forest ResourcesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Weyerhaeuser Co. Forestry ResearchFederal WayUSA
  3. 3.Seattle Public UtilitiesNorth BendUSA

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