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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Plants of the Coldwater River, Mississippi, Usa: Community Records Along the Hydrologic Gradient in the Loess Hills

Authors
item Cooper, Charles
item Huneycutt, Maeburn - RETIRED UNIV OF MS
item Testa, Sam

Submitted to: Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 20, 2004
Publication Date: April 20, 2004
Citation: Cooper, C.M., Huneycutt, M.B., Testa Iii, S. 2004. Plants of the coldwater river, mississippi, usa: community records along the hydrologic gradient in the loess hills. Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings. April 20, 2004.

Interpretive Summary: Natural floodplains are uncommon in many agricultural regions because of channel excavation in the 1800s and 1900s. Documentation of their plant communities may lead to newly-found values in topics like medicinal drugs. The natural channel of the upper Coldwater River has been predominantly un-impacted by channel modifications or recent large-scale land clearing. The river is generally bordered by floodplain forest in various stages of growth, and stream-floodplain interaction occurs frequently. It is the only major hill land drainage in the Yazoo Basin which is unchannelized. We found 294 species of plants as part of a water quality and habitat study, including two species that appear to have never been reported from Mississippi before. Many of the plant species observed have potential as sources of economic products, including many pharmacological chemicals that may lead to development of new drugs. The upper Coldwater River represents a minimally disturbed area of the State, and its richness of flora is reflective of its value as natural habitat.

Technical Abstract: To document existing conditions, a study of plant communities at eight locations along the upper Coldwater River was conducted with recurring visits to sixteen 100m transects over a period of one year. The river system drains a large (565 square kilometer) multi-use catchment in the loess hills of Mississippi upstream of Arkabutla Reservoir. A total of 294 species occurring in 86 families were recorded. Greatest community richness was observed at the most upstream location with 165 plant species in 111 genera representing 59 plant families. Lowest richness (84 species) occurred at the mid-reach location. The most commonly encountered species were Lonicera japonica Thunb. (Japanese honeysuckle), Impatiens capensis Meerb. (jewelweed), Fraxinus americana L. (American ash) and Sambucus nigra L. (elderberry). Seventeen species were collected at all eight locations while 103 species were recorded at only one location. No records of federally-listed threatened or endangered species were made, but observations were made for Platanthera flava (L.) Lindl. (the palegreen orchid) which is listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern in sixteen states. Our observations also included 45 species considered to be obligate inhabitants of wetlands, including Chelone glabra L. (white turtlehead). Two species [Carex pensylvanica Lam. and Lactuca biennis (Moench)] are potentially herein reported from the state for the first time.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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