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Biogeomorphic feedback between plant growth and flooding causes alternative stable states in an experimental floodplain
Wang, C.; Wang, Q.; Meire, D.; Ma, W.; Wu, C.; Meng, Z.; van de Koppel, J.; Troch, P.; Verhoeven, R.; De Mulder, T.; Temmerman, S. (2016). Biogeomorphic feedback between plant growth and flooding causes alternative stable states in an experimental floodplain. Adv. Water Resour. 93B: 223–235. dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.advwatres.2015.07.003
In: Advances in Water Resources. Elsevier: Southampton. ISSN 0309-1708, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

Author keywords
    Biogeomorphic feedback; Alternative stable state; Flooding; Plant; Floodplain; Flume experiment

Authors  Top 
  • Wang, C., more
  • Wang, Q.
  • Meire, D., more
  • Ma, W.
  • Wu, C.
  • Meng, Z.
  • van de Koppel, J., more
  • Troch, P., more
  • Verhoeven, R., more
  • De Mulder, T., more
  • Temmerman, S., more

Abstract
    It is important to understand the mechanisms of vegetation establishment on bare substrate in a disturbance-driven ecosystem because of many valuable ecosystem services. This study tested for empirical indications of local alternative stable states controlled by biogeomorphic feedbacks using flume experiments with alfalfa: (1) single flood experiments different in flood intensity and plant growth, (2) long-term evolution experiments with repeated flooding and seeding. We observed: (1) a combination of thresholds in plant growth and flooding magnitude for upgrowing seedlings to survive; (2) bimodality in vegetation biomass after floods indicating the existence of two alternative states, either densely vegetated or bare; (3) facilitation of vegetation establishment by the spatial pattern formation of channels and sand bars. In conclusion, empirical indicators were demonstrated for local alternative stable states in a disturbance-driven ecosystem associated with biogeomorphic feedbacks, which could contribute to the protection and restoration of vegetation in such ecosystems.

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