Effects of Altered Flow Regimes on Floodplain Forest Processes in the Savannah River Basin
Palta, Monica M.
Richardson, Elizabeth A.
Sharitz, Rebecca R.
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The link between fluvial geomorphic disturbances and dynamics within riparian vegetation and animal populations in the Southern United States has been well documented. Construction of dams on the Savannah River—resulting in altered hydrology, geomorphology, and sediment composition of the floodplain system—has potentially had multiple impacts on species composition and processes within its riparian ecosystem. Productivity and recruitment of floodplain trees in the Savannah River basin have been found to be altered under different hydrologic regimes. Changes in forest community structure and successional processes in areas of the Savannah River floodplain may be linked to changes in hydrology following dam construction. Undisturbed riparian ecosystems normally provide abundant food, cover, and water for wildlife, and often contain some special ecological features or combination of features that are not found in upland areas. Timing, magnitude, and duration of flood inundation in the Savannah River basin must be carefully considered in efforts to restore key processes within its floodplain ecosystem.