Evaluating the Effects of Pressure Indicators on Riparian Zone Health Conditions in the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir, China
Forests , Volume 11; doi:10.3390/f11020214
Abstract: The possible negative impacts of flow regulation on riparian zone conditions can be observed due to the disruption of the natural flow regime in reservoirs. In spite of considerable literature on the qualitative effects of external disturbances on riparian health indicators (RHIs), quantitative evaluations of such changes induced by pressure are rare in the literature. Our study evaluated the effects of pressure indicators on the RHIs, and the responses of RHIs relevant to the riparian zones of the Three Gorges Dam Reservoir (TGDR), China, by using the field-based approach. This paper is a component of a large project—rapid appraisal of riparian condition for the TGDR, China. The analysis has compared pressures (13 indicators) and RHIs (27 indicators) determined from the transects (259) identified throughout the TGDR (within 15 counties) by categorizing into upstream, midstream, and downstream. By using basic statistical techniques (Kruskal-Wallis tests and Pearson’s correlation), pressure indicators were found to significantly differently influence RHIs for the categorized three sections of the riparian zones of the TGDR. The correlation analysis confirmed that the pressure indicators correlated (range of r = −0.496–0.971) with the RHIs (enlisted as habitat, plant cover, regeneration, erosion, and exotic parameters). Moreover, pressure indicators were found to have a highly significant influence on erosion and habitat parameters, but moderate effects on plant cover, exotic and regeneration parameters. In addition, the highest relative effect of the pressure indicators was detected in the upstream transects, whereas the lowest was in the downstream transects. Agglomerative Hierarchical Cluster analysis also confirmed the substantial dissimilarity in the upstream transects, whereas significant similarities were identified between midstream and downstream transects. These results may be particularly important in the planning stages, to help administrators and planners form better priorities and treatments for reach-scale conservation and restoration of wide-ranging riparian zones.
Keywords: Transects / Quantitative assessment / Rapid Appraisal / pressure indicators / Three Gorges Dam Reservoir / Riparian zone condition
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