A study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Conservation at the Four Rivers Conservation Area (west-central Missouri), between January 2001 and March 2004, to examine the relations between environmental factors (hydrology, soils, elevation, and landform type) and the spatial distribution of vegetation in remnant and constructed riparian wetlands. Vegetation characterization included species composition of ground, understory, and overstory layers in selected landforms of a remnant bottomland hardwood ecosystem, monitoring survival and growth of reforestation plots in leveed and partially leveed constructed wetlands, and determining gradients in colonization of herbaceous vegetation in a constructed wetland.
Similar environmental factors accounted for variation in the distribution of ground, understory, and overstory vegetation in the remnant bottomland forest plots. The primary measured determining factors in the distribution of vegetation in the ground layer were elevation, soil texture (clay and silt content), flooding inundation duration, and ponding duration, while the distribution of vegetation in the understory layer was described by elevation, soil texture (clay, silt, and sand content), total flooding and ponding inundation duration, and distance from the Marmaton or Little Osage River. The primary measured determining factors in the distribution of overstory vegetation in Unit 1 were elevation, soil texture (clay, silt, and sand content), total flooding and ponding inundation duration, ponding duration, and to some extent, flooding inundation duration.
Overall, the composition and structure of the remnant bottomland forest is indicative of a healthy, relatively undisturbed flood plain forest. Dominant species have a distribution of individuals that shows regeneration of these species with significant recruitment in the smaller size classes. The bottomland forest is an area whose overall hydrology has not been significantly altered; however, portions of the area have suffered from hydrologic alteration by a drainage ditch that is resulting in the displacement of swamp and marsh species by colonizing shrub and tree species. This area likely will continue to develop into an immature flood plain forest under the current (2004) hydrologic regime.
Reforestation plots in constructed wetlands consisted of sampling survival and growth of multiple tree species (Quercus palustris, pin oak; Carya illinoiensis, pecan) established under several production methods and planted at multiple elevations. Comparison of survival between tree species and production types showed no significant differences for all comparisons. Survival was high for both species and all production types, with the highest mortality seen in the mounded root production method (RPM?) Quercus palustris (pin oak, 6.9 percent), while direct seeded Quercus palustris at middle elevation and bare root Quercus palustris seedlings at the low elevation plots had 100 percent survival. Measures of growth (diameter and height) were assessed among species, production types, and elevation by analyzing relative growth. The greatest rate of tree diameter (72.3 percent) and height (65.3 percent) growth was observed for direct seeded Quercus palustris trees planted at a middle elevation site.
Natural colonized vegetation data were collected at multiple elevations within an abandoned cropland area of a constructed wetland. The primary measured determining factors in the distribution of herbaceous vegetation in this area were elevation, ponding duration, and soil texture. Richness, evenness, and diversity were all significantly greater in the highest elevation plots as a result of more recent disturbance in this area.
While flood frequency and duration define the delivery mechanism for inundation on the flood plain, it is the duration of ponding and amount of 'topographic capture' of these floodwaters in fluvial lan
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrologic, soil, and vegetation gradients in remnant and constructed riparian wetlands in west-central Missouri, 2001-04
Scientific Investigations Report
ix, 160 p. (1 folded) : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 28 cm.