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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 398-409
Impact of seasonal water-level fluctuations on autumn vegetation in Poyang Lake wetland, China
Xue DAI1,2, Rongrong WAN1(), Guishan YANG1(), Xiaolong WANG1, Ligang XU1, Yanyan LI3, Bing LI1
1. Key Laboratory of Watershed Geographic Sciences, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
3. Jiangsu Second Normal University, Nanjing 210013, China
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Water level fluctuations (WLF) are natural patterns that are necessary for the survival of various plants, and WLF guarantee both the productivity and the biodiversity of wetlands. However, the underlying mechanisms of how changes in vegetation are linked to seasonal WLF remain unclear. Using vegetation and hydrological data from 1989 to 2009, we identified the key seasonal fluctuations and their impacts on vegetation in the Poyang Lake wetland by utilizing a tree-based hierarchical model. According to our results: 1) WLF in summer had significant impacts on both sedges and reeds. The severe summer floods promoted the expansion of sedges, while they inhibited the expansion of reeds; 2) WLF in autumn also greatly impacted sedges, while reeds were severely affected in spring. Specifically, we found that low water levels in autumn led to the expansion of sedges, and low water levels in spring led to the expansion of reeds. The results were well corroborated through comparisons of the vegetation distribution patterns over the last two decades (i.e., the 1990s and 2000s), which may shed light on corresponding water resource and wetland management.

Keywords wetland      reeds      sedges      seasonal water-level fluctuations      classification and regression tree model     
Corresponding Authors: Rongrong WAN,Guishan YANG   
Just Accepted Date: 27 September 2018   Online First Date: 16 November 2018    Issue Date: 16 May 2019
 Cite this article:   
Xue DAI,Rongrong WAN,Guishan YANG, et al. Impact of seasonal water-level fluctuations on autumn vegetation in Poyang Lake wetland, China[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 2019, 13(2): 398-409.
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Rongrong WAN
Guishan YANG
Xiaolong WANG
Ligang XU
Yanyan LI
Bing LI
Fig.1  Map of the Poyang Lake wetland.
Fig.2  Inner-annual water level fluctuations of the Poyang Lake during 1952 to 2014.
Fig.3  Vegetation distribution pattern of Poyang Lake wetland and seasonal variations of various vegetation zones. (a) Vegetation map. (b) An aerial view of a typical coastline of Poyang Lake with reed and sedge zones changing with elevation from high to low on the emergent marsh areas. (c) The sharp boundary between the two distinctive vegetation zones. (d), (e) and (f) reeds in spring, summer, and autumn, respectively. (g), (h), and (i) sedges in spring, early summer, and autumn.
Vegetation type Dominant species Surface elevation
Reeds Phragmites communis
Triarrhena lutarioriparia
Artemisia selengensis
Artemisia rubripes
Polygonum caespitosum
15?17 m
Sedges Carex cinerascens
Carex brevicuspis
Carex scabrifolia
Carex argyi
Carex doniana
Phalaris arundinacea
Polygonum orientale
13?15 m
Aquatics Vallisneria natans
Potamogeton malaianus
Potamogeton crispus
Trapa maximowiczii
Hydrilla verticillata var. rosburghii
Najas minor
<13 m
Tab.1  List of taxa in each vegetation zone in Poyang Lake wetland
Year Date Year Date
1989 November 20th 2004 November 29th
1991 December 10th 2005 October 31st
1995 December 17th 2006 November 3rd
1996 November 23rd 2007 November 30th
1999 December 10th 2008 December 10th
2001 November 21st 2009 December 6th
2003 November 3rd
Tab.2  Dates of Landsat TM/ETM images used in the current research
Seasonal WLF Parameters for measuring the corresponding WLF
WLF in spring The average\maximum\minimum value
WLF in summer The average\maximum\minimum value
WLF in autumn The average\maximum\minimum value
WLF in winter The average\maximum\minimum value
Tab.3  Hydrological parameters reflecting seasonal water level fluctuation patterns*
Fig.4  An example of a CART Tree model (the child node and the sub tree) (a) and the plot of the cross-validated deviance versus tree size for pruning a CART tree (b).
Fig.5  Changes in seasonal water level fluctuations in 1989 to 2009.
Fig.6  Comparison of seasonal water level fluctuations in the Poyang Lake during the 1990s and the 2000s, as compared to the average for 1952 to 2014.
Fig.7  Changes in coverage area of the two typical vegetation types (reeds and sedges) from 1989 to 2009.
Fig.8  The final CART model for the coverage area of sedges.
Fig.9  The final CART model for the coverage area of reeds.
Fig.10  Comparison of coverage area of each vegetation type in the Poyang Lake wetland during the 1990s and the 2000s.
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