Estimating primary productivity of forested wetland communities in different hydrologic landscapes

  • Mitsch W
  • Taylor J
  • Benson K
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Five forested wetland sites in western Kentucky with hydrologic regimes varying from seasonally to continuously flooded were investigated for net above-ground biomass productivity (litterfall plus biomass growth) and for possible indicators of that productivity, including abiotic (flooding frequency and depth, phosphorus concentrations in water and sediments) and biotic (biomass, tree density, basal area, structural complexity, and mean height) indices. Net biomass productivity ranged from 205 g/m²/y for a stagnant semipermanently flooded Taxodium swamp to 1,334 g/m²/y in a bottomland forest along the Ohio River. Productivity was highest in wetlands with pulsing hydroperiods, intermediate with slowly flowing systems, and lowest with stagnant conditions. Surface water flooding of the wetlands during the growing season ranged from 17 to 100 percent of the year and did not predict productivity. Phosphorus concentrations in water and in sediments were not correlated to one another and did not, by themselves, predict productivity. No single abiotic variable predicted the exact ranking of productivity of the sites. Of the biotic variables, average tree diameter was inversely related to productivity.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Kentucky
  • Ohio River
  • bottomland forest
  • hydrology
  • primary productivity
  • wetland

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  • Bill MitschFlorida Gulf Coast University, Naples, USA

  • Jan R. Taylor

  • Kimberly B. Benson

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