Effects of ice and floods on vegetation in streams in cold regions: implications for climate change
2014 (English)In: Ecology and Evolution, ISSN 2045-7758, E-ISSN 2045-7758, Vol. 4, no 21, 4173-4184 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Riparian zones support some of the most dynamic and species-rich plant communities in cold regions. A common conception among plant ecologists is that flooding during the season when plants are dormant generally has little effect on the survival and production of riparian vegetation. We show that winter floods may also be of fundamental importance for the composition of riverine vegetation. We investigated the effects of ice formation on riparian and in-stream vegetation in northern Sweden using a combination of experiments and observations in 25 reaches, spanning a gradient from ice-free to ice-rich reaches. The ice-rich reaches were characterized by high production of frazil and anchor ice. In a couple of experiments, we exposed riparian vegetation to experimentally induced winter flooding, which reduced the dominant dwarf-shrub cover and led to colonization of a species-rich forb-dominated vegetation. In another experiment, natural winter floods caused by anchor-ice formation removed plant mimics both in the in-stream and in the riparian zone, further supporting the result that anchor ice maintains dynamic plant communities. With a warmer winter climate, ice-induced winter floods may first increase in frequency because of more frequent shifts between freezing and thawing during winter, but further warming and shortening of the winter might make them less common than today. If ice-induced winter floods become reduced in number because of a warming climate, an important disturbance agent for riparian and in-stream vegetation will be removed, leading to reduced species richness in streams and rivers in cold regions. Given that such regions are expected to have more plant species in the future because of immigration from the south, the distribution of species richness among habitats can be expected to show novel patterns.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wiley-Blackwell, 2014. Vol. 4, no 21, 4173-4184 p.
anchor ice, climate change, in-stream mosses, northern Sweden, plants, riparian vegetation, streams, winter floods
Environmental Sciences Ecology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-97221DOI: 10.1002/ece3.1283ISI: 000344752000013OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-97221DiVA: diva2:773273