The Mississippi Alluvial Valley (USA)
The Mississippi Alluvial Valley (MAV) is over 800 km long, drains about 41% of the conterminous United States, and is the largest continuous system of wetlands and aquatic habitats in North America comprising approximately 10 million ha. Elevation and hydrology primarily influence the frequency, duration, and periodicity of flooding, which in turn determine plant community composition and species distribution. Largely forested prior to the arrival of Europeans, flood control for agriculture and human settlement caused nearly 75% loss of riparian forests in the MAV by the late twentieth century, with only highly fragmented patches remaining today. However, diverse landforms and ecological communities in the MAV provide unique habitats for myriad species. Many sources of nonpoint source pollution (e.g., fertilizers, toxic chemicals, livestock waste) negatively influence water quality in the MAV. Primary crops grown in the MAV include corn, cotton, rice, and soybeans. Rice fields are especially important to diverse waterbirds during migration and winter.
KeywordsBottomland hardwood forests Delta Floodplains Hydrology MAV Mississippi Mississippi River Waterbirds Waterfowl Wetlands
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