Patterns of riparian vegetation on fluvial landforms in northern Illinois
Dowd, Cathryn M.
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The relationship between fluvial landforms and vegetation patterns is characterized by zones of vegetation groups parallel to the stream channel arranged along a gradient of flood frequency. This paper examines the spatial pattern of riparian vegetation as it is influenced by fluvial landforms and the distance/elevation from a stream in Northern Illinois. When vegetation is predominately found on a fluvial surface with a known flood frequency, vegetation can be used to predict flood frequency where hydrologic data are scarce. Data were collected along transects perpendicular to the stream from the active floodplain to the water’s edge at the curve of a meander bend and at points downstream and upstream of the bend. Microtopography and surface soil particle size were determined visually. Vegetation composition was recorded through line-intercept sampling. Results showed that some species and types of vegetation are site specific. Surfaces closest to the channel bed were dominated by species more tolerant of fluvial processes. Vegetation nearest the water’s edge upstream of the meander bend appeared to be more tolerant of flooding than vegetation at the downstream site.