Vegetation of the Elwha River Estuary

By: , and 
Edited by: Jeffrey J. DudaJonathan A. Warrick, and Christopher S. Magirl


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The Elwha River estuary supports one of the most diverse coastal wetland complexes yet described in the Salish Sea region, in terms of vegetation types and plant species richness. Using a combination of aerial imagery and vegetation plot sampling, we identified 6 primary vegetation types and 121 plant species in a 39.7 ha area. Most of the estuary is dominated by woody vegetation types, with mixed riparian forest being the most abundant (20 ha), followed by riparian shrub (6.3 ha) and willowalder forest (3.9 ha). The shrub-emergent marsh transition vegetation type was fourth most abundant (2.2 ha), followed by minor amounts of dunegrass (1.75 ha) and emergent marsh (0.2 ha). This chapter documents the abundance, distribution, and floristics of these six vegetation types, including plant species richness, life form, species origin (native or introduced), and species wetland indicator status. These data will serve as a baseline to which future changes can be compared, following the impending removal of Glines Canyon and Elwha Dams upstream on the Elwha River. Dam removals may alter many of the processes, materials, and biotic interactions that influence the estuary plant communities, including hydrology, salinity, sediment and wood transport, nutrients, and plant-microbe interactions.

Study Area

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Vegetation of the Elwha River Estuary
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, Virginia
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 24 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Title Coastal habitats of the Elwha River, Washington biological and physical patterns and processes prior to dam removal
First page 225
Last page 248
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Elwha River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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