Aboveground net primary productivity in a riparian wetland following restoration of hydrology


This research presents the initial results of the effects of hydrological restoration on forested wetlands in the Mississippi alluvial plain near Memphis, Tennessee. Measurements were carried out in a secondary channel, the Loosahatchie Chute, in which rock dikes were constructed in the 1960s to keep most flow in the main navigation channel. In 2008-2009, the dikes were notched to allow more flow into the secondary channel. Study sites were established based on relative distance downstream of the notched dikes. Additionally, a reference site was established north of the Loosahatchie Chute where the dikes remained unnotched. We compared various components of vegetation composition and productivity at sites in the riparian wetlands for two years. Salix nigra had the highest Importance Value at every site. Species with minor Importance Values were Celtis laevigata, Acer rubrum, and Plantanus occidentalis. Productivity increased more following the introduction of river water in affected sites compared to the reference. Aboveground net primary productivity was highest at the reference site (2926 ± 458.1 g- m–2 year–1), the intact site; however, there were greater increase at the sites in the Loosahatchie Chute, where measurements ranged from 1197.7 + 160.0 g m–2 year–1 to 2874.2 + 794.0 g- m–2 year–1. The site furthest from the notching was the most affected. Pulsed inputs into these wetlands may enhance forested wetland productivity. Continued monitoring will quantify impacts of restored channel hydrology along the Mississippi River.

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