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RIVER PLANTS. The macrophytic vegetation of watercourses. 1978. Illustrated by P.A. Wolseley. Cambridge University Press, 396 pp. ISBN 0-521-21493-9


Water plants have received much less attention from botanists than have land plants and the plants of streams have had the least attention. Arber's Water plants was the pioneer book on the larger aquatic plants, and describes how plants' structures are adapted to life in the water. Sculthorpe drew together much information in The biology of aquatic vascular plants. The early research on ecology, on how and why plants grow in some places and not in others, is summarised in Tansley's The British Islands and their vegetation. Since then, the water plants of lakes have received considerable attention, e.g. by Spence, who pointed out the importance of nutrients and water movement in controlling plant distribution. Butcher's classic papers on river plants described different types of stream vegetation, and the importance of currents, soil, shading, etc. in forming plant communities. Careful surveys of river vegetation have been carried out by Whitton and his colleagues, while Westlake and his colleagues have studied the physiology and productivity of chalk stream plants (see Bibliography).

This book describes the hitherto unpublished research of the author, except where the contrary is specifically stated.

Streams are complex and diverse, and a book of this type cannot include all possible variations in vegetation, so plants can be found away from the habitats which are described here as characteristic. The term 'plant' is used for the larger plants of watercourse, the flowering plants (angiosperms), horsetails and water fern (pteridophytes), mosses (bryophytes) and the two groups of large algae occurring in watercourses - the stoneworts (Characeae) and Enteromorpha. The mosses are not otherwise named or distinguished. The smaller algae are usually excluded from the general text, but the microscopic floating algae, the phytoplankton, are referred to as causing turbidity in water and as forming part of the living entity of stream vegetation. In the illustrations of the vegetation along whole rivers, in Chapters 11 and 22, two other categories of algae are used, namely blanket weed (for filamentous algae sufficiently long and dense to be easily seen from above the water) and benthic algae (here defined as algae growing on the channel bed in sufficient quantity to be easily seen as green areas from above the water but not trailing away from the bed as does blanket weed.



1 Introduction

Types of river plants; historical changes affecting streams; stream types; plants as indicators; important British river plants; reference illustration section; introduced plants.

2 Flow, substrate and plant distribution

Flow types; vegetation correlated with flow; correlation of flow type with individual species; the fast-flow and spatey habitats; substrate types; vegetation correlated with substrate; correlation of substrate type with individual species.

3 Flow, substrate, and how they affect individual plants

Hydraulic resistance to flow; anchoring strength; velocity pull; battering and tangling; abrasion; rooting depth and patterns; erosion; sedimentation; vegetative survival; conclusions.

4 River width, drainage order, depth and plant distribution

Width; drainage order; depth; width-depth associations.

5 Flow patterns and storm damage

Flow regimes in different stream types; types of storm damage; different storm flows; downstream variation in storm damage; seasonal variations in storm flows; timing of damage.

6 Width-slope patterns

Regional patterns; distribution of dense vegetation; species distribution; use of width-slope patterns.

7 Light

Shading from above; light under water; plants within water.

8 Nutrients

Nutrient uptake; sources of nutrient supply; plant distribution in relation to water nutrients; nutrient patterns in silt; nutrient status of different stream types; distribution of species in relation to silt nutrients.

9 Productivity

10 Plant patterns

Across the channel; direction of flow; along the channel; protection; shading from above; bridge and weir patterns; sedimentation and plant cycles; poor establishment; ageing; seasonal and annual changes; competition; management.

11 Downstream changes

Streams of different types; list of symbols; changes in bedrock; downstream propagation.

12 Vegetation of streams on soft rocks

Chalk streams' oolite streams; sandstone streams; clay streams; streams of mixed catchments; stream classification.

13 Vegetation of streams on hard rocks

Streams on resistant rocks; coal measures streams; limestone streams; sandstone streams; calcareous and fell sandstone streams; streams on mixed catchments; streams in flood plains; stream classification.

14 Vegetation of channels with little flow

Dykes and drains; canals.

15 North American streams: habitat and vegetation patterns

Geology and topography; flow; ground water level; stream depth; forests and trees; water colour and turbidity; logging rivers; sand damage; beaver dams; land use and pollution; list of symbols; species distribution; distribution of plant groups; geographical variation.

16 North American ditches and canals

Ditches; canals.

17 North American streams: vegetation types

Quebec; Nova Scotia; Vermont; New York; Ontario; Michigan; Indiana; Wisconsin; Minnesota; Iowa; New Jersey; Pennsylvania; Delaware and Maryland; Virginia and North Carolina.

18 Use and benefits of river plants

Soil stabilisation; water purification; plants and animals; plants used by man; aesthetic value; vegetation recommended for different stream types.

19 Flood hazards created by river plants

Hazards from plants in situ; water movement through vegetation; other flood hazards from plants; dykes and drains; canals; lowland streams; upland and mountain streams.

20 Changes in flow patterns

Structures impeding flow; lowering of the water level; water transfers.

21 Maintenance and mechanical use of watercourses

Dredging; cutting; herbicides; trees; grazing; boats; trampling.

22 Pollution

Severity of pollution; inorganic eutrophic pollution; sewage and industrial effluents; heavy metal pollution; pollutions in which suspended or deposited sediments are important; herbicides and pesticides; heat; recent changes in pollution.





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