Human effects on the water economy of the river systems are currently well documented at the worldwide scale, impacting a range of ecosystem services. In this perspective article, we discuss the findings of recent papers that under different intensities of human disturbance have coupled the analyses of riverine geomorphological and plant community patterns. The discussion is carried out within the historical framework of past and current methods of sampling and analysing the river geomorphology and the plant communities along cross-sectional profiles. The research has been conducted along three major gravel-bed rivers of the south-eastern Italian Alps: Brenta, Piave, and Tagliamento. The collated and summarised results here demonstrate the existence of a strong relationship between the woody species variance that can be explained by geomorphologic patterns and human disturbance intensity. The less disturbed river has an intermediate value of species variance that can be explained by geomorphology, the intermediate-disturbed river has the highest value, and the highly disturbed river has the lowest value. Then, we proposed an interpretation key and an adaptation of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which reads as: “in rivers, the greatest influence of geomorphic properties on vegetation occurs in the moderate or middle ranges of a human disturbance gradient”. We argue that the “influence of the geomorphic properties on vegetation” is assessed through the species constrained variance through an ordination analysis, such as that which is explained here. The most recent collection techniques based on field survey and remote sensing are making it increasingly easy and accurate to study of the trends of geomorphic and plant community variables throughout time and space. Thus, we encourage that researchers should check whether and how our observation is conserved through different groups of taxa and intensities of natural and human disturbance.

Revisiting Vegetation Gradient Analysis and the Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis for the Interpretation of Riverine Geomorphic Patterns

Sitzia, Tommaso
;
Iacopino, Simone;Alterio, Edoardo;Surian, Nicola;Lenzi, Mario Aristide;Campagnaro, Thomas;Picco, Lorenzo
2023

Abstract

Human effects on the water economy of the river systems are currently well documented at the worldwide scale, impacting a range of ecosystem services. In this perspective article, we discuss the findings of recent papers that under different intensities of human disturbance have coupled the analyses of riverine geomorphological and plant community patterns. The discussion is carried out within the historical framework of past and current methods of sampling and analysing the river geomorphology and the plant communities along cross-sectional profiles. The research has been conducted along three major gravel-bed rivers of the south-eastern Italian Alps: Brenta, Piave, and Tagliamento. The collated and summarised results here demonstrate the existence of a strong relationship between the woody species variance that can be explained by geomorphologic patterns and human disturbance intensity. The less disturbed river has an intermediate value of species variance that can be explained by geomorphology, the intermediate-disturbed river has the highest value, and the highly disturbed river has the lowest value. Then, we proposed an interpretation key and an adaptation of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which reads as: “in rivers, the greatest influence of geomorphic properties on vegetation occurs in the moderate or middle ranges of a human disturbance gradient”. We argue that the “influence of the geomorphic properties on vegetation” is assessed through the species constrained variance through an ordination analysis, such as that which is explained here. The most recent collection techniques based on field survey and remote sensing are making it increasingly easy and accurate to study of the trends of geomorphic and plant community variables throughout time and space. Thus, we encourage that researchers should check whether and how our observation is conserved through different groups of taxa and intensities of natural and human disturbance.
2023
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11577/3467283
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