Establishment of woody riparian vegetation in relation to annual patterns of streamflow, Bill Williams River, Arizona

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Previous studies have revealed the close coupling of components of annual streamflow hydrographs and the germination and establishment of Populus species. Key hydrograph components include the timing and magnitude of flood peaks, the rate of decline of the recession limb, and the magnitude of base flows. In this paper, we retrospectively examine establishment of four woody riparian species along the Bill Williams River, Arizona, USA, in the context of annual patterns of streamflow for the years 1993-1995. The four species examined were the native Populus fremontii, Salix gooddingii, and Baccharis salicifolia and the exotic Tamarix ramosissima. We modeled locations suitable for germination of each species along eight study transects by combining historic discharge data, calculated stage-discharge relationships, and seed-dispersal timing observations. This germination model was a highly significant predictor of seedling establishment. Where germination was predicted to occur, we compared values of several environmental variables in quadrats where we observed successful establishment with quadrats where establishment was unsuccessful. The basal area of mature woody vegetation, the maximum annual depth to ground water, and the maximum rate of water-table decline were the variables that best discriminated between quadrats with and without seedlings. The results of this study suggest that the basic components of models that relate establishment of Populus spp. to annual patterns of streamflow may also be applicable to other woody riparian species. Reach-to-reach variation in stage-discharge relationships can influence model parameters, however, and should be considered if results such as ours are to be used in efforts to prescribe reservoir releases to promote establishment of native riparian vegetation.
Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Establishment of woody riparian vegetation in relation to annual patterns of streamflow, Bill Williams River, Arizona
Series title Wetlands
Volume 18
Issue 4
Year Published 1998
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Wetlands
First page 577
Last page 590
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