An Experimental Study of the Utility of Adventitious Roots for Determining the Hydroperiod in Isolated Wetlands

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Adventitious roots, biological indicator, buttonbush, Florida, hydroperiod, wetland


Accurate measurement of the hydroperiod in isolated wetlands currently relies upon the installation and frequent monitoring of devices such as piezometers and staff gauges. Observations of biological indicators of the hydroperiod can provide supplemental data to these devices and potentially replace them as a means of accurately determining this hydrologic interval. In this preliminary study, our objective is to determine whether adventitious root formation and maturation on buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is a viable indicator of the hydroperiod in isolated wetlands. Buttonbush seedlings were flooded in a controlled environment over a three month period in the summer of 2011. During this time, the length and complexity of adventitious roots observed were recorded. We found a significant positive relationship between average lengths of primary adventitious roots and time of inundation. The sequential appearance of secondary, tertiary and quaternary roots also corresponded with the length of the hydroperiod. From these preliminary results, we see a strong potential of using adventitious roots on buttonbush to help determine the hydroperiods of isolated wetland systems. Ideally, future studies will extend the period of investigation beyond our three month interval and calibrate these findings with examples from natural wetlands.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Tropical Ecology, v. 58, issue 2, p. 369-377