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Forests 2015, 6(4), 929-956; doi:10.3390/f6040929

A Comparison of the Composition and Diversity of Tree Populations along a Hydrological Gradient in Floodplains (Southern Québec, Canada)

1
Sciences de L'Environnement, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 3351 Boulevard des Forges, Trois-Rivières, QC G9A 5H7, Canada
2
Laboratoire de Recherche en Géomorphologie Fluviale et Sols, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, 3351 Boulevard des Forges, Trois-Rivières, QC G9A 5H7, Canada
3
Lyonnaise des Eaux, Direction Rhones-Alpes-Auvergne, 988, Chemin Pierre-Drevet, 69147 Rillieux-la-Pape, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Philip J. Polglase and Eric J. Jokela
Received: 17 October 2014 / Revised: 17 February 2015 / Accepted: 19 March 2015 / Published: 30 March 2015
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Abstract

With the current climate changes, it is essential to understand the mechanisms that govern floods and flow regimes and their effects on the dynamics of riparian forests. The aim is to assess the effects of new hydrological conditions (increase in flood frequency) on forest stands subject to frequent floods. The sampling sites (total of 94 quadrats) are located in riverine woodlands, and the choice of location corresponds to the boundaries of the flood-risk zones established by official government maps. Our study shows that there are significant differences in the composition and diversity of forest communities following differences in the flood recurrence zones. In the active floodplains (i.e., recurrence interval of 0–20 years), the tree population stands are clearly distinguished from other intermediate flood zones (interval of 20–100 years). Differences are also noted in the structure of the communities, in particular in the frequent flood zones, which are characterized by a low renewal rate, low density and less-diversified forest stands. The frequent floods risk forest stand rejuvenation and creating decline as a result of increased tree mortality and the low renewal rate. With the expected increases in the number of flood events in the coming decades, there may be greater tree mortality and a gradual disappearance of the forest communities. View Full-Text
Keywords: active floodplains; composition and structure; hydrological gradient; riparian forests active floodplains; composition and structure; hydrological gradient; riparian forests
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Berthelot, J.-S.; Saint-Laurent, D.; Gervais-Beaulac, V.; Présent, A. A Comparison of the Composition and Diversity of Tree Populations along a Hydrological Gradient in Floodplains (Southern Québec, Canada). Forests 2015, 6, 929-956.

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