, Volume 10, Issue 10, pp 1683-1701

Aquatic plant diversity in four river floodplains: a comparison at two hierarchical levels

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Abstract

The present study focuses on the role ofenvironmental factors in plant diversity and community organization at both water-body and river floodplain levels. The cover of each plant species was measured at 841 sampling plots along 63 cut-off channels located in four river floodplains. Environmental variables were documented either at river level (suspended matter, water physico-chemistry, river slope) or at cut-off channel level (channel capacity, slope, substrate grain-size). At both river and cut-off channel levels, increasing slope (i.e. increasing erosion during floods) and decreasing nutrient-content of the water raise species richness and uniqueness (number of species found only in one river), according to hypotheses on the combined role of disturbances and productivity in biodiversity. Rivers that are not eroded during floods are nutrient-rich and present the lowest richness and uniqueness at the river level, but dewatering combined with high connectivity increase richness at the cut-off channel level.