Predicting interactions between wetland vegetation and the soil-water and surface-water environment using diversity, abundance and attribute values

  • M. P. Kennedy
  • K. J. Murphy
  • D. J. Gilvear
Part of the Developments in Hydrobiology book series (DIHY, volume 190)


This study investigated the response of freshwater wetland vegetation to hydrological driving factors by assessing collective vegetation variables, traits of dominant plant populations and hydrological and hydrochemical variables, repeat-sampled within wetland sites across Scotland and northern England. Sampling was conducted at 55 permanent sample stations located along 11 independent transects. Eco-hydrological interactions were investigated using a regression-based modelling approach. Facets of the water-table dynamic (e.g., level of drawdown, level of fluctuation), along with vegetation abundance (e.g., biomass, stem density) and diversity (e.g., species richness) values, were used to build predictive models. Of the models predicting vegetation characteristics, the greatest predictive power was R 2=0.67 (p < 0.001) for a model predicting stem density (m−2). Conversely, vegetation variables proved useful for predicting characteristics of the water-table environment. In this instance, the greatest predictive power was R 2=0.79 (p < 0.001) for a model predicting minimum water table level (i.e. maximum level of drawdown). The models were tested using data collected during 2000 from repeat sites and independent sites. This approach might be successfully applied for the purposes of integrated eco-hydrological management and monitoring of freshwater wetland vegetation.

Key words

freshwater wetlands eco-hydrology vegetation attributes predictive modelling 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abernethy, V. J. & N. J. Willby, 1999. Changes along a disturbance gradient in the density and composition of propagule banks in floodplain aquatic habitats. Plant Ecology 140: 177–190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ali, M. M., K. J. Murphy & V. J. Abernethy, 1999. Macrophyte functional variables versus species assemblages as predictors of trophic status in flowing waters. Hydrobiologia 415: 131-138.Google Scholar
  3. Bragg, O. M., P. D. Hulme, H. A. P. Ingram, J. P. Johnston & A. I. A. Wilson, 1994. A maximum-minimum recorder for shallow water tables, developed for ecohydrological studies on mires. Journal of Applied Ecology 31: 589–592.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Daoust, R. J. & D. L. Childers, 1998. Quantifying aboveground biomass and estimating net aboveground primary production for wetland macrophytes using a non-destructive phenometric technique. Aquatic Botany 62: 115–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Denny, P., 1985. Wetland vegetation and associated plant lifeforms. In Denny, P. (ed.), The Ecology and Management of African Wetland Vegetation. Junk, Dordrecht, 1–18.Google Scholar
  6. Diaz, S., M. Cabido & F. Casanoves, 1998. Plant functional traits and environmental filters at a regional scale. Journal of Vegetation Science 9: 113–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Duckworth, J. C., M. Kent & P. M. Ramsay, 2000. Plant functional types: an alternative to taxanomic plant community description in biogeography? Progress in Physical Geography 24: 515–542.Google Scholar
  8. Grieve, I. C., D. G. Gilvear & R. G. Bryant, 1995. Hydrochemical and water source variations across a floodplain mire, Insh Marshes, Scotland. Hydrological Processes 9: 99–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Grime, J. P., J. G. Hodgson & R. Hunt, 1988. Comparative Plant Ecology: A Functional Approach to Common British Species. Unwin Hyman, London, 742 pp.Google Scholar
  10. Hills, J. M., K. J. Murphy, I. D. Pulford & T. H. Flowers, 1994. A method for classifying European riverine wetland ecosystems using functional vegetation groupings. Functional Ecology 8: 242–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Junk, W. J., P. B. Bayley & R. E. Sparks, 1989. The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems. In Dodge, D. P. (ed.), Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium, Canadian special publication of fisheries and aquatic science 106: 110–127.Google Scholar
  12. Keddy, P. A., 1992a. Assembly and response rules: two goals for predictive community ecology. Journal of Vegetation Science 3: 157–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Keddy, P. A., 1992b. A pragmatic approach to functional ecology. Functional Ecology 6: 621–626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Keddy, P. A. & B. Shipley, 1989. Competitive hierarchies in herbaceous plant communities. Oikos 54: 234–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kennedy, M. P., 2001. Predicting the impact of hydrological change on wetland vegetation. Ph.D. thesis, University of Glasgow, UK.Google Scholar
  16. Kennedy, M. P. & K. J. Murphy, 2003. Hydrological and hydrochemical conditions characterising Carex chordorrhiza L. fil. (String Sedge) habitat in a Scottish floodplain wetland. Aquatic Botany 77: 243–255.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Murphy, J. & J. P. Riley, 1962. A modified single solution method for the determination of phosphate in natural waters. Anal. Chem. Acta 27: 31–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Murphy, K. J., E. Castella, B. Clément, J. M. Hills, P. Obrdlik, I. D. Pulford, E. Schneider & M. C. D. Speight, 1994. Biotic indicators of riverine wetland ecosystem functioning. In Mitsch, W. J. (ed.), Global Wetlands: Old World and New. Elsevier, Amsterdam, 659–682.Google Scholar
  19. Murphy, K. J., G. Dickinson, K. Dick, K. Greaves, M. Kennedy, S. Livingstone, H. McFerran, J. Milne, J. Oldroyd & R. Wingfield, 2003. Aquatic plant communities and predictors of diversity in a sub-tropical river floodplain: the upper Rio Paraná, Brazil. Aquatic Botany 77: 257–276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Murphy, K. J. & M. J. Hootsmans, 2002. Predictive modelling of aquatic community attributes: biomass, biodiversity, biointegrity and biomonitoring. Acta Limnol. Bras. 14(3): 43–60.Google Scholar
  21. Newbold, C. & J. O. Mountford, 1997. English Nature Freshwater Series, No. 5. Water Level Requirements of Wetland Plants and Animals. English Nature, Peterborough.Google Scholar
  22. Nicholls, A. O., 1989. How to make biological surveys go further with Generalised Linear Models. Biological Conservation 50: 51–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Patrick, W. H. & I. C. Mahapatra, 1968. Transformation and availability to rice of nitrogen and phosphorus in waterlogged soils. Advances in Agronomy 20: 323–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Rodwell, J. S. (eds), 1991. British Plant Communities Vol. 1: Woodlands and Scrub. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 395 pp.Google Scholar
  25. Smith, A. J. E., 1978. The Moss Flora of Britain and Ireland. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 714 pp.Google Scholar
  26. Stace, C., 1997. New Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1130 pp.Google Scholar
  27. Watson, E. V., 1994. British Mosses and Liverworts. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,.Google Scholar
  28. Wheeler, B. D. & K. E. Giller, 1982. Species richness of herbaceous fen vegetation in Broadland, Norfolk in relation to the quantity of above-ground plant-material. Journal of Ecology 70: 179–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wheeler, B. D. & M. C. F. Proctor, 2000. Ecological gradients, sub-divisions and terminology of north-west European mires. Journal of Ecology 88: 187–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wheeler, B. D. & S. C. Shaw, 1991. Aboveground crop mass and species richness of the principal types of herbaceous rich-fen vegetation of lowland England and Wales. Journal of Ecology 79: 285–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Wheeler, B. D. & S. C. Shaw, 1995. Plants as hydrologists? an assessment of the value of plants as indicators of water conditions in fens. In J. Hughes & L. Heathwaite (eds), Hydrology and Hydrochemistry of British Wetlands. John Wiley and Sons Ltd., Chichester, 63–82.Google Scholar
  32. Willby, N. J., V. J. Abernethy & B. O. L. Demars, 2000. Attribute-based classification of European hydrophytes and its relationship to habitat utilisation. Freshwater Biology 43: 43–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Willby, N. J., K. J. Murphy, D. J. Gilvear, I. C. Grieve & I. D. Pulford, 1997. Hydrochemical-vegetation interactions on a Scottish floodplain mire. In Large, A. R. G. (ed.), Floodplain Rivers: Hydrological Processes and Ecological Significance. British Hydrological Society, 40–52.Google Scholar
  34. Willby, N. J., K. J. Murphy & I. D. Pulford, 1998. A Scottish flood-plain mire: the Insh Marshes, Strathspey. Scottish Geographical Management 114: 13–17.Google Scholar
  35. Wilson, S. D. & P. A. Keddy, 1986. Species competitive ability and position along a natural stress/disturbance gradient. Ecology 67: 1236–1242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. P. Kennedy
    • 1
  • K. J. Murphy
    • 1
  • D. J. Gilvear
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Division of Environmental and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK
  2. 2.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of Stirling, UKUK

Personalised recommendations