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Effects of flooding on the seed bank and soil properties in a conservation area on the Han River, South Korea
- Lee, Hyohyemi, Alday, Josu G., Cho, Kang-Hyun, Lee, Eun Ju, Marrs, Rob H.
- Ecological engineering 2014 v.70 pp. 102-113
- Miscanthus sacchariflorus, annuals, buried seeds, climate, ecosystems, floods, flora, homogenization, multivariate analysis, particle size, perennials, physicochemical properties, plant communities, rain, riverine habitat, rivers, sediment deposition, sediments, soil properties, species diversity, typhoons, urban areas, vegetation, wetland plants, South Korea
- Flooding can have a major impact on riverside plant communities, and this is likely to be especially important in monsoonal climates, where large floods occur after heavy rain. In urban areas where riparian vegetation remnants are the only vegetation of conservation interest remaining, understanding the impacts that floods have on these ecosystems is needed to inform their future conservation. Accordingly, we assessed the impact of a flood caused by Typhoon “Ewiniar” on the soil seed bank of five plant communities of the only remaining fragment of high-quality riverine habitat within the Seoul city stretch of the Han River (South Korea). We surveyed the seed bank composition of the five dominant plant communities before and after the flood. We also measured selected soil physico-chemical properties in each community. We used univariate and multivariate methods to examine the effect of the flood on both seed bank and soil physico-chemical properties. Flooding resulted in variable deposition of sediment within the plant communities; four communities varied from 14.6 to 18.8cm but the fifth (dominated by Miscanthus sacchariflorus) had much less sediment (4.8cm). The physico-chemical properties of the surface soil also changed after the flood, with the sediment particle size being the most affected. The species richness and composition of the seed bank suffered significant changes after the flood. In both cases there was a homogenization process, with was also impinged on species with different life-forms (annuals and perennials). Our results suggest that an extreme flood can affect the riparian vegetation seed bank by removing wetland plant species and allowing common and ruderal species to establish. There may also be different interactions between the different plant communities in terms of sediment capture and this translates into altered soil conditions and seed banks. These results are of use to conservation policy-makers aiming to conserve a native flora within severely modified urban rivers, and these remnant areas can provide an important seed source of wetland plants to aid restoration of riparian ecosystems.