ridolfi2006

ridolfi2006 - WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, VOL. 42, W01201,

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Effect of vegetation–water table feedbacks on the stability and resilience of plant ecosystems Luca Ridolfi Dipartimento di Idraulica, Trasporti ed Infrastrutture Civili, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy Paolo D’Odorico Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA Francesco Laio Dipartimento di Idraulica, Trasporti ed Infrastrutture Civili, Politecnico di Torino, Turin, Italy Received 19 July 2005; revised 18 October 2005; accepted 1 November 2005; published 7 January 2006. [ 1 ] The interaction of vegetation with the groundwater is one of the key mechanisms affecting the dynamics of wetland plant ecosystems. The main feature of these interactions is the feedback between the downward shift of the water table caused by riparian vegetation and the emergence of soil aeration conditions favorable to plant establishment, growth, and survival. We develop a conceptual framework to explain how vegetation– water table feedbacks may lead to the emergence of multiple stable states in the dynamics of wetland forests and riparian ecosystems. This framework is used to investigate the sensitivity of these ecosystems to vegetation disturbances and changes in water table depth. As a result of these feedbacks, such ecosystems are prone to catastrophic shifts to an unvegetated state. Because of their competitive advantage, water-tolerant and shallow- rooted species can replace the original vegetation, contributing to the occurrence of vegetation succession in riparian zones and to the existence of alternative vegetation states between areas with shallow and deep water tables. Citation: Ridolfi, L., P. D’Odorico, and F. Laio (2006), Effect of vegetation–water table feedbacks on the stability and resilience of plant ecosystems, Water Resour. Res. , 42 , W01201, doi:10.1029/2005WR004444. 1. Introduction [ 2 ] Riparian and wetland ecosystems are known for their environmental and economical value, as they are among the most productive terrestrial ecosystems [ Naiman and Decamps , 1997], provide habitat to a diverse animal population [ Le Maitre et al. , 1999], and offer important resources for logging [e.g., Dube ´e ta l . , 1995; Roy et al. , 2000] and livestock grazing [ Wright and Chambers , 2002]. Understanding the response of riparian and wetland forests to anthropogenic and natural disturbances (e.g., wood harvesting, fires, and changes in water table depth) is of foremost importance to the management and resto- ration of these ecosystems [ Wright and Chambers , 2002]. In what follows, we will denote ‘‘wetland ecosystems’’ plant ecosystems in areas with shallow water tables, and consider riparian forests as a particular case of these
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This note was uploaded on 07/09/2011 for the course CWR 5104C taught by Professor Miralles during the Spring '11 term at FIU.

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ridolfi2006 - WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH, VOL. 42, W01201,

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