, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 639–647 | Cite as

Patterns of tree species richness in forested wetlands

  • Teri M. KeoghEmail author
  • Paul A. Keddy
  • Lauchlan H. Fraser
Regular Submissions


The number of tree species, or alpha diversity, in terrestrial forests decreases with increasing latitude. However, it is not known whether forests in flooded areas follow the same diversity patterns as upland forests. A good reason for doubt is the evidence that herbaceous wetland plants are most diverse at temperate latitudes. Wetlands are subject to strong environmental constraints, such as flooding, peat (acidity), cold, and salinity, which may be particularly limiting to tree growth and richness. We sampled 12 plots and collected published data from 245 plots of forested wetland around the world. The data were sorted into five categories based upon environmental constraints: tropical freshwater, temperate freshwater, temperate peat, tropical saline, and temperate saline. There was a significant difference in tree richness among the five categories (One-way ANOVA p<0.0001), from a mean of 31 species in tropical freshwater floodplains to 2 in temperate saline wetlands. Generally, tree richness increased with decreasing latitude, but the regression only accounted for 1.6% of the variation. It seems that species richness within forested wetlands is controlled by the cumulative number of environmental constraints.

Key Words

alpha diversity biodiversity environmental constraints riparian swamp woody 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Adam, P. 1990. Saltmarsh Ecology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  2. Arrhenius, O. 1921. Species and area. Journal of Ecology 9:95–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Austin, M. P., J. G. Pausas, and A. O. Nicholls. 1996. Patterns of tree species richness in relation to environment in southeastern New South Wales, Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 21:154–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Axelrod, D. I. 1970. Mesozoic paleogeography and early angiosperm history. The Botanical Review 36:277–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bay, R. R. 1967. Ground water and vegetation in two peat bogs in northern Minnesota. Ecology 48:308–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brown, J. H. 1996. Macroecology. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL. USA.Google Scholar
  7. Connell, J. H. 1975. Some mechanisms producing structure in natural communities: a model and evidence from field experiments. p. 460–490.In M. I. Cody and J. Diamond (eds.) Ecology and Evolution of Communities. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.Google Scholar
  8. Connor, E. F. and E. D. McCoy. 1979. The statistics and biology of the species-area relationship. American Naturalist 113:791–833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cowling, R. M., P. W. Rundel, B. B. Lamont, M. K. Arroyo, and M. Arianoutsou. 1996. Plant diversity in Mediterrancan-climate regions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11:362–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Crow, G. E. 1993. Species diversity in aquatic angiosperms: latitudinal patteras. Aquatic Botany 44:229–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Currie, D. J. 1991. Energy and large-scale patterns of animal- and plant-species richness. The American Naturalist 137:27–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Currie, D. J. and V. Paquin. 1987. Large-scale biogeographical patterns of species richness in trees. Nature 329:326–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dansereau, P. and F. Segadas-Vianna. 1952. Ecological study of the peat bogs of eastern North America. Canadian Journal of Botany 30:490–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Delcourt, H. R. and P. A. Delcourt. 1991. Quaternary Ecology. A Paleoecological Perspective. Chapman and Hall, London, UK.Google Scholar
  15. Denslow, J. L. 1987. Tropical rain forest gaps and tree species diversity. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics 18:431–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Ehrlich, A. and P. Ehrlich. 1981. Extinction. The Causes and Consequences of the Disappearance of Species. Random House, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  17. Fonda, R. W. 1974. Forest succession in relation to river terrace development in Olympic National Park, Washington. Ecology 55:927–942.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gentry, A. H. 1988. Changes in plant community diversity and floristic composition on environmental and geographical gradients. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 75:1–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Glaser, P. H. 1992. Raised bogs in eastern North America- regional controls for species richness and floristic assemblages. Journal of Ecology 80:535–554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gorham, E. 1967. Some Chemical Aspects of Wetland Ecology. p. 20–38.In Technical Mem. Committee on Geotechnical Research, National Research Council of Canada, No. 90.Google Scholar
  21. Grime, J. P. 1973a. Competitive exclusion in herbaceous vegetation. Nature 242:344–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Grime, J. P. 1973b. Control of species density in herbaceous vegetation. Journal of Environmental Management 1:151–167.Google Scholar
  23. Groombridge, B. 1992. Global Biodiversity: Status of the Earth’s Living Resources. Chapman & Hall, London, UK.Google Scholar
  24. Grubb, P. J. 1977. The maintenance of species-richness in plant communities: the importance of the regeneration niche. Biological Review 52:107–145.Google Scholar
  25. Keddy, P. A. and L. H. Fraser. (in press) On the diversity of land plants.Ecoscience.Google Scholar
  26. Keddy, P. A. and P. MacLellan. 1990. Centrifugal organization in forests. Oikos 59:75–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. King, S. L. 1995. Effects of flooding regimes on two impounded bottomland hardwood stands. Wetlands 15:272–284.Google Scholar
  28. Kozlowski, T. T. 1984. Responses of woody plants to flooding. p. 129–163.In T. T. Kozlowski (ed.) Flooding and Plant Growth. Academic Press, Orlando, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  29. Larcher, W. 1995. Physiological Plant Ecology. Springer-Verlag. Berlin, Germany.Google Scholar
  30. Levitt, J. 1972. Responses of Plants to Environmental Stresses. Academic Press. New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  31. Levitt, J. 1980. The nature of stress injury and resistance. p. 11–21.In Responses of Plants to Environmental Stresses. 2nd Edition. Academic Press, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  32. Lugo, A. E., M. Brinson, and S. Brown (eds.) 1990. Forested Wetlands. Elsevier, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  33. MacArthur, R. and O. E. Wilson. 1967. The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.Google Scholar
  34. Malecki, R. A., J. R. Lassoie, E. Rieger, and T. Seamans. 1983. Effects of long-term artificial flooding on a northern bottomland hardwood community. Forest Science 29:535–544.Google Scholar
  35. May, R. M. 1988. How many species are there on Earth? Science 241:1441–1449.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McKevlin M. R., D. D. Hook, and W. H. McKee Jr. 1995. Growth and nutrient use efficiency of water tupelo seedlings in flooded and well-drained soil. Tree Physiology 15:753–758.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Mitsch, W. J. and J. G. Gosselink 1986. Wetlands, Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  38. Moore, P. 1991. Ups and downs in peatland. Nature 353:299–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Moore, D. R. J., P. A. Keddy, C. L. Gaudet, and I. C. Wisheu. 1989. Conservation of wetlands: Do infertile wetlands deserve a higher priority. Biological Conservation 47:203–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Myers, R. L. 1990. Plam swamps. p. 267–286.In A. E. Lugo, M. Brinson, and S. Brown (eds.) Forested Wetlands, Elsevier, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  41. Niklas, K. J., B. H. Tittney, and A. H. Knoll. 1983. Patterns in vascular land plant diversification. Nature 303:614–616.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Peel, R. K. 1978. Forest vegetation of the Colorado Front Range: patterns of species diversity. Vegetatio 37:65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Phillips, D. L. and D. J. Shure. 1990. Patch-size effects on early succession in southern appalachian forest. Ecology 71:204–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Pool, D. J., S. C. Snedaker, and A. E. Lugo. 1977. Structure of mangrove forests in Florida, Puerto Rico, Mexico and Costa Rica. Biotropica 9:195–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Ricklefs, R. E. and D. Schluter (eds.) 1993. Species Diversity: Historical and Geographical Perspectives. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.Google Scholar
  46. Rosenzweig, M. L. 1995. Species Diversity in Space and Time. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.Google Scholar
  47. Rozema, J. and J. A. C. Verkleij (eds.). 1991. Ecological Responses to Environmental Stresses. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, the Netherlands.Google Scholar
  48. Specht, A. and R. L. Specht. 1993. Specles richness and canopy productivity of Australian plant communities. Biodiversity and Conservation 2:152–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Tolliver, K. S., D. W. Martin, and D. R. Young. 1997. Freshwater and saltwater flooding response for woody species common to barrier island swales. Wetlands 17:10–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tomlinson, P. B. 1986. The Botany of Mangrove. Cambridge University Press, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  51. Toner, M. and P. A. Keddy. 1997. River hydrology and riparian wetlands: a predictive model for ecological assembly. Ecological Applications 7:236–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Treshow, M. 1970. Environment and Plant Response. McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  53. Tschudy, R. H., C. L. Pillmore, C. J. Orth, J. S. Gilmore, and J. D. Knight. 1984. Disruption of the terrestrial plant ecosystem at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary, western interior. Science 225:1030–1032.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Vitt, D. H. 1990. Growth and production dynamics of boreal mosses over climatic, chemical and topographic gradients. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 104:35–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. van Breeman, N. 1995. How Sphagnum bogs down other plants. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 10:270–275.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26:1–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teri M. Keogh
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paul A. Keddy
    • 1
  • Lauchlan H. Fraser
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of AkronAkronUSA

Personalised recommendations