A comparison of species richness and traits of riparian plants between a main river channel and its tributaries

  • Nilsson C
  • Ekblad A
  • Dynesius M
 et al. 
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1 We examined differences in species richness and frequencies of vascular plants in the riverbank vegetation between the main channel of the Vindel River system and seven of its tributaries which spanned the same biogeographic range. 2 Species richness per site was higher in the main channel than in the tributaries, both as a whole and for many species groups. The proportions of woody plants (phanerophytes and chamaephytes), geophytes, and natural species were higher in the tributaries, while the proportions of hemicryptophytes, ruderals, and short-floating species (i.e. species unable to float > 1 day) were higher in the main channel. Both types of river had species that were more than twice as frequent there than in the other category. 3 The main channel had a high species richness at intermediate altitudes whereas the tributaries had least species at intermediate altitudes. Except for the highest altitudes, the tributaries also had a generally lower mean species richness than the main channel. 4 Stepwise multiple regression analyses using 15 predictor variables explained statistically up to 85 % of the floristic variation in the river system. Mean annual discharge and number of substrates explained most of the variation in five equations each, while peat cover explained most of the variation in four equations, and altitude and silt cover in one equation each. Mean annual discharge, peat cover and silt cover differed between the main channel and the tributaries and could therefore be responsible for the observed differences.

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  • Christer Nilsson

  • Alf Ekblad

  • Mats Dynesius

  • Susanne Backe

  • Maria Gardfjell

  • Bjorn Carlberg

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