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Stearns, Forest (ed.) / Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters
volume LXVI (1978)

Barnes, William J.
The distribution of floodplain herbs as influenced by annual flood elevation,   pp. 254-266 PDF (3.1 MB)


Page 254

THE DISTRIBUTION OF FLOODPLAIN HERBS 
AS INFLUENCED BY ANNUAL FLOOD 
ELEVATION 
William J. Barnes 
University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire 
ABSTRACT 
 j~ erbaceous plants were sampled in a Chippewa River bottomland forest at
Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Spatial dispersion patterns of the J~ierbs were examined
in relation to elevation, soil characteristics and flood recurrence intervals.
Frequency and magnitude of spring floods appear to be the major influence
on the distribution of herbaceous species in this river bottom site. 
INTRODUCTION 
Herbaceous species in floodplain forests may occur at high densities in some
places, although they are sparse in others. Locally, species richness ranges
from relatively high to low. Some species appear to occur in distinct bands
parallel to the river, whereas others shift gradually in abundance with increasing
distance from the river. These patterns of spatial dispersion may be related
to soil characteristics, light conditions, topography, drainage, flood elevation
and frequency, or other factors. This study examined the spatial distribution
of herbaceous plants in a river bottom forest in particular reference to
the recurrence interval of floods. 
STUDY AREA 
The study area is one of several small crescent-shaped floodplains 
in the middle reaches of the Chippewa River near Eau Claire, Wisconsin (Fig.
1). Two well-defined terraces occur, the first bottom, closest to the river,
is flooded to some extent nearly every year while the second bottom, above
a rather steep slope, is rarely flooded. The alluvium is primarily sand of
Mt. Simon and Eau Claire sandstone origin. 
254 


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