Effects of hydrological regime on development of Carex wet meadows in East Dongting Lake, a Ramsar Wetland for wintering waterbirds

Lei Jing, Cai Lu, Yan Xia, Linlu Shi, Aojie Zuo, Jialing Lei, Hong Zhang, Guangchun Lei*, Li Wen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Wet meadows are one of the most important ecological components in floodplain, and are among the most dynamic ecosystems. Understanding the development of wet meadows and contributing environmental factors can provide better support for wetland management. Carex meadows in East Dongting Lake National Nature Reserve (EDLNNR) provide vital wintering ground for thousands of migratory waterbirds, and their ecological functions are under threated due to hydrological alternation. We measured wet meadow expansion in EDLNNR from 1989 to 2014, and explored its responses to hydrological and climatic factors within the generalised additive models (GAM) framework. We found an overall expansion of wet meadows over the study period. However, in contrast to many previous studies, our results showed that water level fluctuations at the hydrologic indicator site had only limited impacts on their development. Instead, sampling year, timing of water level recession, and local rainfall exerted significant effects. The effects of sampling year reflected the changes in sedimentation within Dongting Lake; and effects of timing of water withdrawal might be explained by the life history of the dominant sedge species. Our study suggested that the impacts of large scale hydrological alternation on vegetation may operate indirectly through its effects on sediment balance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41761
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes

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