, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 577-590

Establishment of woody riparian vegetation in relation to annual patterns of streamflow, Bill Williams River, Arizona

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Previous studies have revealed the close coupling of components of annual streamflow hydrographs and the germination and establishment ofPopulus species. Key hydrograph components include the timing and magnitude of flood peaks, the rate of decline of the recession limb, and the magnitude of base flows. In this paper, we retrospectively examine establishment of four woody riparian species along the Bill Williams River, Arizona, USA, in the context of annual patterns of streamflow for the years 1993–1995. The four species examined were the nativePopulus fremontii, Salix gooddingii, andBaccharis salicifolia and the exoticTamarix ramosissima. We modeled locations suitable for germination of each species along eight study transects by combining historic discharge data, calculated stage-discharge relationships, and seed-dispersal timing observations. This germination model was, a highly significant predictor of seedling establishment. Where germination was predicted to occur, we compared values of several environmental variables in quadrats where we observed successful establishment with quadrats where establishment was unsuccessful. The basal area of mature woody vegetation, the maximum annual, depth to ground water, and the maximum rate of water-table decline were the variables that best discriminated between quadrats with and without seedlings. The results of this study suggest that the basic components of models that relate establishment ofPopulus spp. to annual patterns of streamflow may also be applicable to other woody riparian species. Reach-to-reach variation in stage-discharge relationships can influence model parameters, however, and should be considered if results such as ours are to be used in efforts to prescribe reservoir releases to promote establishment of native riparian vegetation.