Riparian Vegetation of the Grande Ronde River

Joseph A. E. Stewart

Riparian Vegetation exists in a unique environment characterized by frequent disturbance, spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity, and abundant water supply. Riparian areas are important due to their disproportionately strong influences on both in stream and terrestrial ecosystems. Because of the importance of riparian areas, scientists and land managers are interested in understanding their dynamics. Many conceptual frameworks exist for examining longitudinal changes in biological function and diversity along rivers. One of these frameworks, the River Continuum Concept (RCC), postulates that longitudinal sections of river show gradients in the physical environmental factors that determine biotic communities. Another conceptual framework that can be applied to river systems is the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which hypothesizes that the greatest levels of biodiversity will be found at intermediate levels of disturbance. Due to confounding factors, these conceptual frameworks, particularly the RCC, may not be particularly accurate generalizations of the riparian vegetation of the Grande Ronde River.