Instream flow and cottonwood growth in the eastern Sierra Nevada of California, USA

Juliet Stromberg, D. T. Patten

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    65 Scopus citations


    Dendro-ecological studies indicated that radial growth of Populus trichocarpa was significantly related to annual streamflow at 20 riparian sites in the eastern Sierra Nevada of California. The strength of the relationship varied among sites, depending on geomorphology and tree cover. The strongest correlation between streamflow and tree growth occurred at sites in wide, unconfined valleys, where alluvial groundwater typically fluctuates directly with surface water. In such areas, trees on streambanks and in the floodplain showed equally strong relationships between flow and growth. In narrow mountain canyons, relationships between tree growth and streamflow were weaker and showed more withinsite variability. Streambank trees in the canyon settings generally showed stronger relationships with streamflow than did floodplain trees. These data suggest that P. trichocarpa trees in confined canyons, in comparison with those in wide alluvial valleys, may rely to a greater extent on water sources that are not in direct hydraulic connection with surface water. Flow-growth models were also stronger at sites where tree basal area and density were low, including sites where flow diversion has caused tree mortality. Sparse tree cover may allow for a greater expression of flow-growth relationships by minimizing the effects of competition for light and other resources, and allowing for greater control of growth by abiotic rather than biotic factors.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalRegulated Rivers: Research and Management
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Jan 1 1996


    • Dendro-ecology
    • Geomorphology
    • Instream flow
    • Populus trichocarpa
    • Riparian vegetation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Environmental Science


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