Patterns of forest succession and impacts of flood in the Upper Mississippi River floodplain ecosystem

Yao Yin, Yegang Wu, Steve M. Bartell, Robert J. Cosgriff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The widespread loss of oak-hickory forests and the impacts of flood have been major issues of ecological interest concerning forest succession in the Upper Mississippi River (UMR) floodplain. The data analysis from two comprehensive field surveys indicated that Quercus was one of the dominant genera in the UMR floodplain ecosystem prior to the 1993 flood and constituted 14% of the total number of trees and 28% of the total basal area. During the post-flood recovery period through 2006, Quercus demonstrated slower recovery rates in both the number of trees (4%) and basal area (17%). In the same period, Carya recovered greatly from the 1993 flood in terms of the number of trees (11%) and basal area (2%), compared to its minor status before the flood. Further analyses suggested that different species responded to the 1993 flood with varying tolerance and different succession strategies. In this study, the relation of flood-caused mortality rates and DBH, fm(d), can be expressed in negative exponential functions for each species. The results of this research also indicate that the growth functions are different for each species and might also be different between pre- and post-flood time periods. These functions indicate different survival strategies and emergent properties in responding to flood impacts. This research enhances our understanding of forest succession patterns in space and time in the UPR floodplain. And such understanding might be used to predict long-term impacts of floods on UMR floodplain forest dynamics in support of management and restoration.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)463-472
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Complexity
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • INHS
  • Spatial and temporal patterns
  • Oak-hickory forest succession
  • Upper Mississippi River floodplain ecosystem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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