Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Riparian Vegetation and Land Cover along the Great Plains' White River
by Cahlander-Mooers, Alex, M.S., University of South Dakota, 2015, 216; 10006278
Abstract (Summary)

Overall, the results of this study show that there are evident trends among the three ecoregions and delta of the White River. The forest stands of the Pine Ridge/Pierre Shale Ecoregion are the oldest along the river, as evidenced by aerial mapping going back into the 1930s and by the larger average trunk diameters of the trees. Historic aerial photographs for this ecoregion shows a relative static system from the 1930s-2010, with little destruction of existing or creation of new forests within the floodplain. Along with the older age of the forests, the stands in this ecoregion have the lowest floral diversity. The Pine Ridge/Pierre Shale forests are also unique along the river in that they are largely dominated by Acer negundo (box elder), a late-successional species that is largely absent from the forests of the other ecoregions. As the river continues downstream and enters the Badlands Ecoregion it gains size and volume, while its riparian forests decrease in patch size and tree density. Although the forests become smaller, the variety of communities and diversity of species increase. Unlike the Pine Ridge/Pierre Shale Ecoregion, the Badlands’ land cover was dynamic from the 1930s-2010, with increases in forest and declines in river channel area (-29%). Farther downstream and with a larger river channel, the River Breaks has even larger and more diverse riparian forests and the highest plant species richness and diversity among the ecoregions. The rate of land cover change was the greatest in the River Breaks, as the larger river has greater power for eroding existing communities and depositing sediment for recruitment. The area of riparian woody vegetation increased sharply from the 1930s-2010 (58%), while the area of channel declined (-20%). This ecoregion had the most perennial streamflow, with fewer zero flow days than in the upstream ecoregions. The Delta is unique as the only portion of the river where flows are affected by the Fort Randall Dam on the Missouri River. The impact of the reservoir on the area is evident, as it has the largest proportional area of forest along the river, as well as having the flora with the highest wetland affinity.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dixon, Mark
Commitee: Jarchow, Meghann, Sweeney, Mark
School: University of South Dakota
Department: Biology
School Location: United States -- South Dakota
Source: MAI 55/03M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Biology, Plant biology, Ecology
Keywords: Floodplains, Great plains, Riparian ecology, Riparian forests, River systems
Publication Number: 10006278
ISBN: 9781339440378
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