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Ecology. 2008 Sep;89(9):2392-8.

Long-term reactions of plants and macroinvertebrates to extreme floods in floodplain grasslands.

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UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Department of Conservation Biology, Permoserstrasse 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany.


Extreme summertime flood events are expected to become more frequent in European rivers due to climate change. In temperate areas, where winter floods are common, extreme floods occurring in summer, a period of high physiological activity, may seriously impact floodplain ecosystems. Here we report on the effects of the 2002 extreme summer flood on flora and fauna of the riverine grasslands of the Middle Elbe (Germany), comparing pre- and post-flooding data collected by identical methods. Plants, mollusks, and carabid beetles differed considerably in their response in terms of abundance and diversity. Plants and mollusks, displaying morphological and behavioral adaptations to flooding, showed higher survival rates than the carabid beetles, the adaptation strategies of which were mainly linked to life history. Our results illustrate the complexity of responses of floodplain organisms to extreme flood events. They demonstrate that the efficiency of resistance and resilience strategies is widely dependent on the mode of adaptation.

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