Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Upper Mississippi River Restoration Program

Long Term Resource Monitoring


Status and trends of floodplain forests on the Upper Mississippi River


The Upper Mississippi River is a highly altered and used system. Not only have the forests along the UMR endured logging and agricultural and urban development, but there has also been a long history of habitat alteration to aid in navigation (Yin et al. 1997). The most recent and ongoing chapter in this development, was the installation of a system of 27 locks and dams on the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, Minnesota to St. Louis, Missouri (finished in 1941) and operation and maintenance of the 3-m deep navigation channel, which continues to affect aquatic and terrestrial habitats (Fremling and Claflin 1984). Development of the navigation system, and the building of levees with agricultural conversion behind levees, resulted in the loss of thousands of acres of floodplain forest (UMRS Habitat Needs Assessment 2000). The remaining floodplain forest is undergoing changes as a result of altered river hydrology. Tree diversity is declining (Yin 1999, Urich et al. 2002). The silver maple community is considered late successional in this system, and often includes green ash (Fraxinus pennsyvanica), elm (Ulmus spp.), river birch (Betula nigra), and cottonwood as codominants or part of the subcanopy and understory. However, many trees, particularly mast producing species, which formerly were more common, either cannot become established naturally or they cannot grow where they used to because of raised water tables (Yin et al. 1997, Yin 1999). Communities of pioneering species (cottonwood [Populus deltoides] and willow [Salix spp.]) are becoming less common because the bare substrate they require for germination is rarely deposited or exposed (Yin and Nelson 1995, Knutson and Klaas 1997). In 2006, floodplain forests in the southern reaches were revisited 10 years after an initial survey was conducted to determine the regeneration rates of floodplain forest. Now that the data have been collected, we are proposing to analyze the data and develop a manuscript for publication on the status and trends of floodplain forest in the southern reaches of the UMRS.

Relevance of research to UMRS/LTRMP

The information will update the prediction on the trajectory of the forest succession. Important questions to be answered includes, 1) Is there sufficient regeneration under the forest canopy to prevent replacement by reed canary grass; 2) Will the next generation forest sustain species diversity at the current level. The information can be used to guide forest management strategies in the URMS.


Various statistical procedures for hypothesis testing and development of a manuscript for publication.

Principal Investigator(s):

Yao Yin, USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, 2630 Fanta Reed Road, La Crosse, WI 54603, E-mail: yyin@usgs.gov


Jim Rogala (JRogala@usgs.gov), Dawn Henderson (Dawn.Henderson@mdc.mo.gov), Rob Cosgriff (cosgriff@inhs.uiuc.edu), Joe Lundh (Joseph.S.Lundh@mvr02.usace.army.mil), Pat Heglund (PHeglund@usgs.gov)

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