Plant Diversity of Montreal Riparian Swamps

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  • Start Date : 1 Jan 2014
  • End Date: 31 Dec 2015

Impacts of urbanization on plant diversity of riparian swamps – IRBV – Université de Montréal

Urbanization poses a major threat to biodiversity by contributing to the homogenization of plant communities. This threat is even greater among plant communities that inhabit riparian habitats, where they are consistently disturbed by human activities and water level management practices. Channelling of runoff towards artificial drainage networks also poses an important threat to the natural evolution of these habitats that depend on the presence of water.

The objectives of this project were to determine the influential processes by which floristic composition (species and functional traits) of riparian swamps is driven, to assess whether urbanization leads to the biotic homogenization of the habitat’s flora, and to evaluate the role that exotic species play within this phenomenon. For the purpose of this study, a total of 57 riparian forest patches were sampled in the greater Montreal area, of which about 15 are found within the city’s boundaries.

This study demonstrated that riparian swamp flora is mostly influenced by environmental factors, especially by flooding intensity. Urbanization was found to have an indirect impact on the studied habitats by altering waterway hydrology, thus reducing flooding susceptibility. Urbanization also induced taxonomical and functional differentiation of flora, which means that an increase in diversity was observed among plant communities. This differentiation can be explained by the drainage of the most urbanized swamp patches, which led to the establishment of terrestrial species.

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