Geografie 2006, 111, 314-325

Succession of vegetation in alluvial floodplains after extreme floods

Tomáš Chuman, Zdeněk Lipský, Tomáš Matějček

Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Department of Social Geography and Regional Development, Albertov 6, 128 43 Praha 2, Czechia

The paper deals with the topic of vegetation changes and successional developments as well as spread of invasive species in alluvial plains after extreme floods. The issue has become topical in Czechia after several extreme floods concentrated in the last 10 years. The paper is based on the search of the Czech and foreign literature as well as authors own experience and research after catastrophic summer floods in 1997 and 2002 in Czechia. The attention is paid to processes and mechanisms of vegetation succession and regeneration after floods. Floods are functioning as important natural disturbances increasing both geodiversity and biodiversity in the riverine landscapes. Different successional stages as well as variable habitats create a varied mosaic of vegetation and cause high species and ecosystem biodiversity in floodplains. On the other hand the disturbance regime of floods is particularly favorable also for invasive species that spread rapidly through floodplain. While future spatial distribution and spread of invasive species is difficult to forecast, the processes of succession and regeneration of vegetation after floods as well as changes in species composition of communities are predictable and confirm basic ecological principles.


The presented research was funded by the Research Plan MSM 0021620831 "Geographical Systems and Risk Processes in Context of Global Changes and European Integration" of the Czech Ministry of Education and Research Project VaV-SM/2/57/05 "Long-term changes of river ecosystems in floodplains affected by extreme floods" of the Ministry of Environment of the Czech Republic which is fully appreciated by the authors.