This research examines the effect of a rare flood on floodplain forest regeneration in a 102-km stretch of the Mississippi River beginning 21 km above the mouth of the Ohio River. The river has been restricted by levees and navigation structures and subjected to sediment dredging to maintain a stable navigation channel. Because the bank erosion-accretion process has been slowed or eliminated, cottonwood (Populus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.) communities regenerate poorly in the modified river environment. An unusually large flood in 1993 destroyed the entire ground vegetation layer, killing 77.2% of the saplings and 32.2% of the trees. The flood created an alternative mechanism for cottonwood and willow to regenerate under canopy openings, enabling the community type composition of the present-day forest to be sustained for the next 50 years. Over time, however, the forest will likely exhibit considerable compositional fluctuation.
Additional publication details
Flooding and forest succession in a modified stretch along the upper Mississippi River