1), and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico. The Platte River watershed today is largely agricultural, with livestock production and corn dominating land-use in this semi-arid
part of the U.S. Because of its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains, river flow is largely governed by high-altitude spring snowmelt. Prior to European settlement, the Platte was a wide, shallow, anabranching river with sparse vegetation (Johnson, 1994). As in many rivers in semi-arid environments, thousands of diversion canals were constructed in the 1900s to irrigate farmland, and several large dams were built in its upper reaches. The result was large evaporative loss of water from the system and tightly regulated flows so that today, the Platte often carries as little as 20% of its original, unregulated flow (Randle and Samad, 2003). buy Adriamycin The reduction in flow led to dramatic changes in river morphology, sediment transport, and vegetation. Various studies have documented conversion of the river from wide and braided with little to no vegetation in the channel, to a much narrower, anabranching or locally meandering
river (Eschner et al., 1983, Fotherby, 2008, Johnson, 1994, Johnson, 1997 and Kircher and Karlinger, 1983). Woodland expansion began in the channel around 1900. By the 1930s much of the channel’s riparian zone had been colonized by Populus (cottonwood) and Salix (willow) species, both fast-growing woody plants ( Johnson, 1994). By the 1960s, a new equilibrium appeared to have been reached between woodland, lightly vegetated Metformin research buy areas and unvegetated areas in the channel ( Johnson, 1997 and Johnson, 1998). In 2002, non-native Phragmites first appeared in the river and
rapidly spread. It colonized riparian areas that had been inhabited by Salix and other species as well as unvegetated parts of the riverbed that were newly exposed by record-low river flows. By 2010 it became one of the most abundant types of vegetation in over 500 km of the river’s riparian area tuclazepam ( R. Walters, pers. comm., 2010). Phragmites is a non-native grass introduced from Eurasia that has invaded wetlands across North America ( Kettenring et al., 2012). It is considered invasive because of its prolific growth and reproduction and unique physiology: it is able to quickly outcompete resident native vegetation – including the native Phragmites subspecies americanus – in many habitats ( Kettenring et al., 2012, Kettenring and Mock, 2012 and Mozdzer et al., 2013). Previous studies conducted in North America have documented the impact of non-native Phragmites on nutrients other than silica, particularly nitrogen cycling ( Meyerson et al., 1999 and Windham and Meyerson, 2013). Study sites were located along a 65 km stretch of the Platte River in Nebraska between Kearney and Grand Island (Fig. 2).