Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Tree Growth Responses of Populus Deltoides and Juglans Nigra to Streamflow and Climate in a Bottomland Hardwood Forest in Central Ohio

Academic journal article The American Midland Naturalist

Tree Growth Responses of Populus Deltoides and Juglans Nigra to Streamflow and Climate in a Bottomland Hardwood Forest in Central Ohio

Article excerpt

DOREEN M. DUDEK1,2, JAMES R. McCLENAHEN3 AND WILLIAM J. MITSCH1,4

ABSTRACT.-Radial growth (indices of tree-ring widths) of Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides Marsh.), a flood-tolerant species, and black walnut (Juglans nigra L)., a flood-intolerant species, were compared with climate and streamflow data by stepwise multiple regression for a riparian forest along the Olentangy River in central Ohio to investigate: (1) the influence of these variables on riparian primary productivity; and (2) whether these species can be used as predictors for the reconstruction of streamflow. Black walnut showed a significant growth response to streamflow. There was no relationship between growth of Eastern cottonwood and streamflow. Growth relationships with climate (mean monthly air temperature, total monthly precipitation) and Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) showed black walnut growth on an upland riparian site was more sensitive to temperature and PDSI than on a lower-elevation site. Growth of black walnut on the low-elevation riparian site was directly and positively influenced by increased streamflow in midwinter and in late summer when subsurface soil moisture recharge from streamflow may be a critical moisture source. Growth of Eastern cottonwood on the low-elevation site was not related to streamflow, but was reduced by excess summer precipitation.

INTRODUCTION

Riparian bottomland hardwood forests are characterized by high water table elevations and seasonal and periodic flooding. On riparian sites, the relative duration and level of flooding have an important and often critical effect on the occurrence and growth rate of trees and other plants. Flooding affects seed germination, early seedling survival, seed dispersal, growth during establishment and tree growth (McKnight et al., 1981; Reily and Johnson, 1982; Mitsch and Rust, 1984; Schneider and Sharitz, 1988; Titus, 1990; Jones et al., 1994; King, 1995). Although flooding appears to be the dominant environmental factor operating on trees in a bottomland forest ecosystem, a combination of many factors determine how well a tree survives and grows These include silvical, morphological and physiological traits and adaptive characteristics related to a species' flood tolerance at various periods in its life cycle (Gill, 1970; Hook and Brown, 1973).

Numerous studies dealing with the effects of flooding on forested bottomlands have shown both positive and negative effects of flooding and it is difficult to generalize on the effects. Several studies reported a positive correlation between flooding and riparian tree growth in widely contrasting settings (Green, 1947; Broadfoot, 1967, 1973; Broadfoot and Williston, 1973; Mitsch and Ewel, 1979; Mitsch et al., 1979; Stromberg and Patten, 1990, 1992). Mitsch and Ewel (1979) illustrated the relative importance of hydrology on Taxodium swamp productivity in Florida while Mitsch et al. (1979) reported that the frequency and magnitude of flooding pulses positively affected Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. (baldcypress) in a riparian wetland in southern Illinois. Stromberg and Patten (1990, 1992) reported a significant relationship between tree growth of Populus trichocarpa L. (black cottonwood) and streamflow in the riparian forests of the Sierra Mountains.

Other studies reported negative, little or no correlation between tree growth and flooding (Johnson and Bell, 1976; Harms et al., 1980; Brown and Peterson, 1983; Mitsch and Rust, 1984; Robertson, 1992; Will et al., 1995; King, 1995). The magnitude, timing and duration of flooding in bottomland forests affect the growth and mortality of trees. Root injury increases as soil saturation progresses from partial inundation to complete inundation. Harms et al. (1980) observed that tree mortality in a swamp forest in Florida varied with species and diameter but was closely related to water depth. Woody plants were first believed to be relatively insensitive to nongrowing season flooding (Gill, 1970); this serves as the basic principle of "green tree reservoir" management in southern U. …

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