Wetlands

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 210–223 | Cite as

Response of herbaceous riparian plants to rain and flooding on the San Pedro River, Arizona, USA

  • Kenneth J. Bagstad
  • Juliet C. Stromberg
  • Sharon J. Lite
Article

Abstract

Herbaceous species comprise most of the floristic diversity in semi-arid region riparian zones, yet little is known about their response to river flooding. We compared cover, richness, and distribution of six functional groups of herbaceous plants after a large fall flood (pre-vs. post-flood year comparison) and after small monsoon floods and rains (dry vs. wet season contrast), and compared richness across a longitudinal (upstream-downstream) gradient of flood intensity. Herbaceous cover and richness increased significantly (p≤0.05, ANOVA) from the pre-flood to post-flood year and from the dry to wet season. Overall, the post-flood increases in richness and cover were related to the combined effects of disturbance (as indicated by strong increases of annual plants) and increased water availability (as indicated by response patterns of hydric perennials and other functional groups). All annuals showed strong increases in richness and cover in the year following the large fall flood, with hydric annuals increasing in richness by 43%, mesic annuals by 52%, and xeric annuals by 75%. Hydric perennials had a small net increase in richness following the large flood, reflecting a positive response to increased flow permanence, countered by low richness at sites with very high flood intensity (total stream power). Mesic and xeric perennials did not change significantly in richness from the pre- to post-flood year. However, across the spatial flood intensity gradient, the richness response pattern of the annuals and perennials alike peaked at intermediate levels of disturbance. In response to seasonal rains and moderate flooding, hydric perennials did not change in abundance, reflecting their primary association with shallow ground water and perennial stream base flows, but mesic perennials increased in cover and xeric perennials increased in both cover and richness. All three annual groups increased in cover and richness and in distribution across the flood plain following the summer monsoon floods and rains: hydric annuals had peak cover in inundated zones, suggesting positive response to river flooding, while xeric annuals peaked in cover above inundation zones, suggesting positive response to icreased rainfall; mesic annuals had intermediate patterns. During the dry season, in contrast, annuals had low richness and cover and were restricted to low elevation fluvial surfaces adjacent to the stream channel and/or underlain by shallow ground water. Overall, both disturbance and increased moisture conditions caused by floods, as well as moisture from seasonal rains, contribute to increased richness and cover of herbaceous plants within the flood plain of the San Pedro River.

Key Words

flood disturbance flood plain functional group ground water herbaceous vegetation precipitation riparian river ruderal stream flow 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Ali, M. M., G. Dickinson, and K. J. Murphy. 2000. Predictors of plant diversity in a hyperarid desert wadi ecosystem. Journal of Arid Environments 45:215–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Arcement, G. J. and V. R. Schneider. 1989. Guide for selecting Manning’s roughness coefficients for natural channels and flood plains. U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2339.Google Scholar
  3. Bagstad, K. 2002. Herbaceous plants as bioindicators of groundwater decline, San Pedro River, Arizona. M. S. Thesis. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.Google Scholar
  4. BarratSegretain, M. H. and C. Amoros. 1996. Recovery of riverine vegetation after experimental disturbance: A field test of the patch dynamics concept. Hydrobiologia 321:53–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Blais, P. A. and M. J. Lechowicz. 1989. Variation among populations of Xanthium strumarium (Compositae) from natural and ruderal habitats. American Journal of Botany 76:901–908.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bornette, G., C. Henry, M. H. Barrat, and C. Amoros. 1994. Theoretical habitat templets, species traits, and species richnessaquatic macrophytes in the Upper Rhone and its floodplain. Freshwater Biology 31:487–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boutin, C. and P. A. Keddy. 1993. A functional classification of wetland plants. Journal of Vegetation Sciences 4:591–600.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carter M. F. and J. B. Grace. 1990. Relationships between flood tolerance, life-history, and short-term competitive performance in three species of Polygonum. American Journal of Botany 77:381–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chaneton, E. J., J. M. Facelli, and R. J. C. Leon. 1988. Floristic changes induced by flooding on grazed and ungrazed lowland grasslands in Argentina. Journal of Range Management 41:495–499.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cornwall, C. 1998. Stream stabilizing traits in common riparian graminoids from a semi-arid alluvial stream. M. S. Thesis. Arizona State University, Fempe, AZ, USA.Google Scholar
  11. Dawson, T. E. and J. S. Pate. 1996. Seasonal water uptake and movement in root systems of Australian phreatophytic plants of dimorphic root morphology: a stable isotope investigation. Oecologia 107:13–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Elderd, B. D. 2003. The impact of changing flow regimes on riparian vegetation and the riparian species Mimulus guttatus. Ecological Applications 13:1610–1625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fossati, J., G. Pautou, and J. P. Peltier. 1999. Water as resource and disturbance for wadi vegetation in a hyperarid area (Wasi Sannur, Eastern Desert, Egypt). Journal of Arid Environments 43:63–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Friedman, J. M., W. R. Osterkamp, and W. M. Lewis. 1996. Channel narrowing and vegetation development following a Great Plains flood. Ecology 77:2167–2181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goodson, J. M., A. M. Gurnell, P. G. Angold, and I. P. Morrissey. 2003. Evidence for hydrochory and the deposition of viable seeds within winter flow-deposited sediments: The River Dove, Derbyshire, UK. River Research and Applications 19:317–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Graf, W. L., 1988. Fluvial Processes in Dryland Rivers. Springer-Verlag New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Grime, J. P. 1974. Vegetation classification by reference to strategies. Nature 250:26–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grime, J. P. 1977. Evidence for the existence of three primary strategies in plants and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory. American Naturalist 111:1169–1194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grimm, N. B., S. G. Fisher, and W. L. Minckley. 1981. Nitrogen and phosphorus dynamics in hot desert streams of Southwestern USA. Hydrobologia 83:303–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gutierrez, J. R., G. Arancio, and F. M. Jaksic. 2000. Variation in vegetation and seed bank in a Chilean semi-arid community affected by ENSO 1997. Journal of Vegetation Science 11:641–648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Haney, J. A. 2002. Groundwater modeling and biodiversity conservation on the Lower San Pedro River. Southwest Hydrology 1:8.Google Scholar
  22. Harper, J. L. 1977. Population Biology of Plants. Academic Press, San Diego, CA, USA.Google Scholar
  23. Henry, C. P., G. Bornette, and C. Amoros. 1994. Differential effects of floods in the aquatic vetetation of braided channels of the Rhone River. Journal of the North American Benthological Society 13:439–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hills, J. M., K. J. Murphy, I. D. Pullford, and T. H. Flowers. 1994. A method for classifying European riverine wetland ecosystems using functional vegetation groups. Functional Ecology 8:242–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hughes, F. M. R. 1990. The influence of flooding regimes on forest distribution and composition in the Tana River floodplain, Kenya. Journal of Applied Ecology 27:475–491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Huston, M. A. 1979. A general hypothesis of species diversity. The American Naturalist 113:81–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaafar, M. N., L. R. Stone, and D. E. Goodrum. 1993. Rooting depth and dry matter development of sunflower. Agronomy Journal 85: 281–286.Google Scholar
  28. Kearney, T. H. and R. H. Peebles. 1960. Arizona flora. University of California Press. Berkeley, CA, USA.Google Scholar
  29. Lavorel, S., S. McIntyre, J. J. Landsberg, and T. D. A. Forbes. 1997. Plant functional classifications: from general groups to specific groups based on response to disturbance. Tree 12:474–478.Google Scholar
  30. Leopold, L. B. 1997. Water, Rivers, and Creeks. University Science Books, Sausalito, CA, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Lite, S. J. 2003. San Pedro River riparian vegetation across water availability and flood disturbance gradients. Ph. D. Dissertation. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.Google Scholar
  32. Makings, E. 2003. Flora of the San Pedro River (Cochise County, Arizona). M.S. Thesis. Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.Google Scholar
  33. Menges, E. S. and D. M. Waller. 1983. Plant strategies in relation to elevation and light in floodplain herbs. American Naturalist 122:454–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Merritt, D. M. and E. E. Wohl. 2002. Processes governing hydrochory along rivers: hydraulics, hydrology, and dispersal phenology. Ecological Applications 12:1071–1087.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mueller-Dombois, D. and H. Ellenberg. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  36. Nilsson, C., S. J. Xiong, M. E. Johanssonn, and L. B. M. Vought. 1999. Effects of leaf-litter accumulation on riparian plant diversity across Europe. Ecology 80: 1770–1775.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Prach, K. and P. Pysek. 1994. Clonal plants- What is their role in succession? Folia Geobotanica & Phytotaxonomica 29:307–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rejmankova, E. 1992. Ecology of creeping macrophytes with special reference to Ludwigia peploides (HBK) Raven. Aquatic Botany 43:283–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Robertson, A. I., P. Bacon, and G. Heagney. 2001. The responses of floodplain primary production to flood frequency and timing. Journal of Applied Ecology 38:126–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. SAS Institute. 2001. SAS/STAT User’s Guide, Release 8.2. SAS Institute, Cary, NC, USA.Google Scholar
  41. Sand-Jensen, K., K. Andersen, and T. Andersen. 1999. Dynamic properties of recruitment, expansion and mortality of macrophyte patches in streams. International Review of Hydrobiology 84:497–508.Google Scholar
  42. Scott, R. L., W. J. Shuttleworth, D. C. Goodrich, and T. Maddock. 2000. The water use of two dominant vegetation communities in a semiarid riparian ecosystem. Journal of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 105:241–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Scott, R. L., C. Watts, J. G. Payan, E. Edwards, D. C. Goodrich, D. Williams, and W. J. Shuttleworth. 2003. The understory and overstory partitioning of energy and water fluxes in an open canopy, semiarid woodland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 114: 127–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Sedgwick, J. A. and F. K. Knopf. 1991. Prescribed grazing as a secondary impact in a western riparian floodplain. Journal of Range Management 44:369–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Senock, R. S., D. L. Devine, W. B. Sisson, and G. B. Donart. 1994. Ecophysiology of three C-4 perennial grasses in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Southwestern Naturalist 39:122–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sera, B. and P. Cudlin. 2001. Flood impact on vegetation communities. Ekologia-Bratislava 20:38–46.Google Scholar
  47. Shafroth, P. B., G. T. Auble, J. C. Stromberg, and D. T. Patten. 1998. Establishment of woody riparian vegetation in relation to annual patterns of streamflow, Bill Williams River, Arizona. Wetlands: 18:577–590.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Shipley, B., P. A. Keddy, D. R. J. Moore, and K. Lemky. 1989. Regeneration and establishment strategies of emergent macrophytes. Journal of Ecology 77:1093–1110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Smith, M., P. Keevin, P. Mettler-McClure, and R. Barkau. 1998a. Effect of the flood of 1993 on Boltonia decurrens, a rare floodplain plant. Regulated Rivers-Research and Management 14:191–202 Sp.Iss.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Smith, S. D., D. A. Devitt, A. Sala, J. R. Cleverly, and D. E. Busch. 1998b. Water relations of riparian plants from warm desert regions. Wetlands 18:687–696.Google Scholar
  51. SPSS. 1998. Systat Version 9. SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA.Google Scholar
  52. Staniforth, R. J., N. Griller, and C. Lajzerowicz. 1998. Soil seed banks from coastal subarctic ecosystems of Bird Cove, Hudson Bay. Ecoscience 5:241–249.Google Scholar
  53. Stevens, L. E., T. J. Ayers, J. B. Bennett, K. Christensen, M. J. C. Kearsley, V. J. Meretsky, A. M. Phillips, R. A. Parnell, J. Spence, M. K. Sogge, A. E. Springer, and D. L. Wegner. 2001. Planned flooding and Colorado River riparian trade-offs downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona. Ecological Applications 11:701–710.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stromberg, J. C. 1998. Dynamics of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and saltcedar (Tamarix chinensis) populations along the San Pedro River, Arizona. Journal of Arid Environment 40:133–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Stromberg, J. C. 2002. Flood flows and population dynamics of Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii). Western North American Naturalist 62:170–187.Google Scholar
  56. Stromberg, J. C., J. Fry, and D. T. Patten. 1997. Marsh development after large floods in an alluvial, arid-land river. Wetlands 17:292–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stromberg, J. C., D. T. Patten, and B. D. Richter. 1991. Flood flows and dynamics of Sonoran riparian forests. Rivers 2:221–235.Google Scholar
  58. Stromberg, J. C., B. D. Richter, D. T. Patten, and L. G. Wolden. 1993. Response of a Sonoran riparian forest to a 10-year return flood. Great Basin Naturalist 53:118–130.Google Scholar
  59. Stromberg, J. C., R. Tiller, and B. Richter. 1996. Effects of groundwater decline on riparian vegetation of semiarid regions: the San Pedro River, Arizona, USA. Ecological Applications 6:113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tabacchi, E., A. Planty-Tabacchi, M. J. Salinas, and H. Décamps 1996. Landscape structure and diversity in riparian plant communities: a longitudinal comparative study. Regulated Rivers-Research and Management 12:367–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Tabacchi, E. and A. M. P. Tabacchi. 2001. Functional significance of species composition in riparian plant communities. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 37:1629–1637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Thomsen, B. W., and H. W. Hjalmarson. 1991. Estimated Manning’s roughness coefficients for stream channels and flood plains in Maricopa County, Arizona. Prepared by U.S. Geological Survey for the Flood Control District of Maricopa County, Phoenix, AZ, USA.Google Scholar
  63. USDA-NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5. URL: http://plants.usda.gov. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.Google Scholar
  64. Voesenek, L. A. C. J. and C. W. P. M. Blom. 1992. Germination and emergence of Rumex in river floodplains. 1. Timing of germination and seedbank characteristics. Acta Botanica Neerlandica 41:319–329.Google Scholar
  65. WEST Consultants, Inc. 1998. Win XSPRO A Channel Cross-Section Analyzer User’s Manual. USDA Forest Service Rockey Mountain Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO, USA.Google Scholar
  66. Willby, N. J., V. J. Abernethy, and B. O. L. Demars. 2000. Attributebased classification of European hydrophytes and its relationship to habitat utilization. Freshwater Biology 43:43–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Williams, C. E., W. J. Moriarity, G. L. Walters, and L. Hill. 1999. Influence of inundation potential and forest overstory on the ground-layer vegetation of Allegheny Plateau riparian forests. American Midland Naturalist 141:323–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Wolden, L. G. and J. C. Stromberg. 1997. Experimental treatments (and unplanned natural events) for restoration of the herbaceous understory in an arid-region riparian ecosystem. Restoration & Management Notes 15:161–167.Google Scholar
  69. Wolden, L. G., J. C. Stromberg, and D. T. Patten. 1994. Flora and vegetation of the Hassayampa River Preserve. Journal of the Arizona Nevada Academy of Science 28:76–111.Google Scholar
  70. Xiong, S. J., C. Nilsson, M. E. Johansson, and R. Jansson. 2001. Responses of riparian plants to accumulation of silt and plant litter: the importance of plant traits. Journal of Vegetation Science 12:481–490.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth J. Bagstad
    • 1
  • Juliet C. Stromberg
    • 2
  • Sharon J. Lite
    • 2
  1. 1.MWH Americas, Inc.ChicagoUSA
  2. 2.School of Life SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

Personalised recommendations