Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center
Effects of flood frequency and duration on the allometry of community-level stem size-density distributions in a floodplain forest
De Jager, Nathan. 2012. Effects of flood frequency and duration on the allometry of community-level stem size-density distributions in a floodplain forest. American Journal of Botany 99(9): 000–000. 2012. http://www.amjbot.org/cgi/doi/10.3732/ajb.1200169
- Premise of the study: Consistent with the self-thinning law of plant population ecology, Niklas et al. in 2003 proposed that stem size-density distributions (SDDs) of multispecies forest communities should change in very predictable ways as a function of the effects of past disturbances on average tree size. To date, empirical tests of this hypothesis have not been pursued in floodplain settings.
- Methods: SDDs were constructed using tree stem-size and density data from forest plots positioned along a flood frequency and duration gradient in the Upper Mississippi River floodplain.
- Key Results: As flooding (both frequency and duration) increased, several small tree species were eliminated from forest plots and the persistent species increased in their size. Consistent with the predictions of Niklas et al., these changes corresponded with overall decreases in stem density, increases in average stem size, and reductions in both the Y-intercept and slope terms of the community-level SDDs.
- Conclusions: This study adds to a growing list of examples suggesting that theories related to forest community composition and biomass must account for both the broader effects of disturbances as well as the underlying biochemical processes that regulate plant growth. Further study is needed to fully address the role different disturbance frequencies play in determining plant density, diversity, average size, and associated size\frequency distributions.
Allometry; community ecology; disturbance; flooding, floodplain forest, Upper Mississippi River