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Effects of Long-Term Artificial Flooding on a Northern Bottomland Hardwood Forest Community

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Two 120-ha bottomland hardwood impoundments located on the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in central New York were subjected to at least 12 years (1965-78) of continuous spring flooding (i.e., mid-March to late June). Mean water depth during flooding was 27-30 cm. Comparisons of the flooded areas with a control area and with data provided before the period of flooding showed little change in the composition of the major tree species present. Tree seedling survival favored red maple (Acer rubrum), a species capable of reproducing vegetatively as well as by seed germination, over that of red ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) and American elm (Ulmus americana). Among the herbaceous species, arrow arum (Peltandra virginica), swamp loosestrife (Decodon verticillatus), and Bidens spp. increased dramatically in mean density and frequency of occurrence, whereas less flood and shade tolerant species such as ferns were reduced. Growth rates of the major tree species in the impoundments were slower than those of trees sampled in a nearby bottomland hardwood stand with natural water level fluctuations. Evidence of foliar stress in the overstory canopy of the flooded impoundments was apparent from analysis of aerial infrared transparencies. This was especially noted in one impoundment which retained water for a longer period due to soil type, topography, and dike design. Forest Sci. 29:535-544.

Keywords: Green timber impoundment; green tree reservoir; wetlands

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Technician, Department of Natural Resources, Fernow Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

Publication date: September 1, 1983

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
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