Lake Chicot, in south central Louisiana, USA, was created in 1943 by the impoundment of Chicot Bayou. Extensive establishment of woody seedling occurred in the lake during a 1.5 year period, including the growing seasons of both 1986 and 1987, when the reservoir was drained for repair work on the dam. Study plots were established in September 1986 to document woody vegetation establishment and to provide a baseline by which to monitor survival and growth after flooding resumed. Taxodium distichum seedlings were the dominant species after one growing season, with a maximum density of 50 seedlings/m2, an average of about 2/m2, and an average height of 75 cm. The lake was reflooded at the end of 1987, bringing water depths at the study plots up to about 1.4 m. Temporary drawdowns were again conducted during the fall of 1992 and 1996. In December 1992, the site was revisited, new plots established, and saplings counted and measured. There was an average of 2.1 T. distichum stems/m2, and the average height was 315 cm. After the 1996 growing season, there was still an average of about 1.9 stems/m2, and the average height had increased to 476 cm. Preservation of T. distichum forests in relatively shallow but continuously flooded areas such as Lake Chicot may be a simple matter of draining the lake after a good seed crop and maintaining the drawdown long enough for the seedlings to grow taller than the typical growing season water level. In the case of Lake Chicot, this period was two growing seasons. This action will mimic natural, drought-related drawdowns of the lake and will allow the seedlings to establish themselves and grow tall enough to survive normal lake water levels.
Additional publication details
Natural regeneration and growth of Taxodium distichum (L.) rich. In Lake Chicot, Louisiana after 44 years of flooding