Evaluating Physiological and Growth Responses of Arundinaria spp. to Inundation

Author(s): Mills, M.; Ervin, G.; Baldwin, B.

The genus Arundinaria includes three species: Arundinaria gigantean (Walter) Muhl. (rivercane), Arundinaria tecta (Walter) Muhl. (switchcane) and Arundinaria appalachiana Triplett, Weakley, & L.G. Clark (hillcane). Arundinaria gigantean and A. tecta are both found in Mississippi, but in slightly different habitats. Arundinaria gigantean typically occurs on the floodplains of large to small rivers, sometimes on the edge of mesic slopes, while A. tecta usually occurs along small to medium blackwater rivers and in small seepages with organic soils. Thus, A. tecta usually is found on moister sites than A. gigantean. Our study assessed the responses of A. gigantean and A. tecta to different periods of inundation (0-week, 2-week, 4-week, and 6-week) under greenhouse conditions. Plant growth parameters, mean net photosynthesis (Pn), and stomatal conductance (Gs) were measured on a weekly basis for each ramet. At the conclusion of the experiment, cane biomass, including root and rhizome mass, were measured. Once flooded, Arundinaria spp. ramets in the 6-week flood treatment had lower Pn rates than those ramets not flooded. During the last week of flooding, A. tecta had a higher Pn rate than A. gigantean. Once flooding was stopped, A. tecta continued to have higher Pn and Gs rates than A. gigantean. Additionally, A. tecta grew more culms post-flood than A. gigantea. In conclusion, A. tecta appeared to be more flood tolerant than A. gigantea, in agreement with habitats in which A. tecta is known to occur. This research should contribute to improving the success of future canebrake restoration projects by increasing understanding of cane’s tolerance of inundation as well as aiding decisions of land managers choosing potential restoration sites or restoration species, based on hydrologic conditions.

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