Intercontinental similarities in riparian-plant diversity and sensitivity to river regulation
2004 (English)In: Ecological Applications, ISSN 1051-0761, E-ISSN 1939-5582, Vol. 14, 173-191 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We asked whether assemblages of species with separate evolutionary histories differed in their response to similar human interventions. We assessed this by comparing the response of riparian plant communities to river regulation on two different continents. We compared free-flowing and regulated rivers between boreal parts of North America (Alberta and British Columbia) and Europe (Sweden), using a standardized sampling protocol and the same field staff on both continents. Although the two regions shared few species, both riparian plant-species diversity along free-flowing rivers and the response to different kinds of flow regulation were similar between the continents. The number of riparian-plant species and their amount of cover differed among types of water-level regime, but the continental affiliation of a river-margin site did not statistically explain any of the variation. Within continents, the local flora of the regulated river-margin sites was largely similar in species composition to the free-flowing ones, but the sites along storage reservoirs were more species-poor. The similarity in the response to regulation between the continents suggests that general guidelines for rehabilitation of degraded boreal rivers are a realistic goal. The number of species and genera, plant cover, and species numbers in most trait groups (classified according to growth form and life span) were similar between free-flowing river margins in Europe and North America. Moreover, the regional native species pools of northern Sweden and Alberta were similar in size and composition of species groups, despite the fact that only 27% of the species in Alberta were found in northern Sweden. This is presumably because the floras share a common Tertiary origin and because the regions have had largely similar late-Tertiary and Quaternary histories. The most pronounced difference between the continents was that we found no exotic species on the 183 Swedish river-margin sites, whereas 9% of the species found in all 24 North American plots taken together were exotics. All North American exotics found have occurred in Europe since prehistoric times, and the difference in exotic richness most likely reflects a difference in the number of species humans have transferred from one continent to another, rather than a difference in invasibility between the regions.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 14, 173-191 p.
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7892DOI: 10.1890/02-5127OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-7892DiVA: diva2:147563