Land Cover and Stream Morphology Indicators of Variation in Riparian Forest Patches of the Etowah River Basin, Georgia
Cifaldi, Rebecca L.
Kramer, Elizabeth A.
Leigh, David S.
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The goal of this paper is to present useful and simple predictive models that will enable scientists and resource managers to ascertain information about vegetation characteristics within riparian forests without an extensive field effort. Models were developed using land cover and geomorphic variables to predict variation in riparian forest characteristics associated with streams in the Etowah River Basin in north Georgia. Geomorphic factors explained much of the variation among forest patches for trees and for seedlings, saplings and vines. Land cover variables were secondary predictors or had no predictive power over these components of riparian plant communities. However, local and basin scale land cover variables explained differences among sites within the shrub layer. Information about riparian forest characteristics can be used to strengthen assessments of stream integrity and contribute to the appropriate identification of restoration needs.