The development of relict vegetation at the edges of some ecosystems has taken place particularly in environments where the regeneration of foundational species is declining. As an important stage of regeneration in the Taxodium distichum, this study explored the relationship of cone volume and seed number across environmental gradients in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley (MRAV) and northern Gulf of Mexico Coast (GOM) in a long-term network of forested wetlands (North American Baldcypress Swamp Network (NABCSN)) from 2007 to 2019. Resembling spheroids, the volumes of Taxodium distichum cones were based on the measured dimensions of the cones collected in swamps across southeastern environmental gradients. Cones with larger volumes also had larger numbers of seeds (r2 = 0.423, F = 113.9, p < 0.0001; Linear regression equation: Seed number per cone = 9.8925223 + 0.8854056* Cone volume cm3). Mean cone volumes were related to water availability with highest volumes in locations with moderate amounts of total annual precipitation (e.g., White River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Arkansas, Tensas NWR Louisiana, and Morgan Brake NWR Mississippi), and longer periods of annual percent time of site drawdown. Cone volume was high in 2018 following the 2017 mega-flood in the Mississippi River Alluvial Valley (MRAV) generated by Hurricane Harvey. Mean annual air temperature was not related to cone volume. Along the Gulf Coast, mean cone volume increased from east to west from Florida to Texas. Especially near the edge of the range of T. distichum forests, smaller cones may be related to regeneration failure and lower seed numbers to support regeneration. A better understanding of regeneration constraints can inform managers of the emergence of relict status in these forests.
|Title||Regeneration trends along climate gradients in Taxodium distichum forests of the southeastern United States|
|Authors||Beth Middleton, Ting Lei, Omag Villegas, Xiaohui Liu|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Forest Ecology and Management|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Wetland and Aquatic Research Center|