Plant communities of oxbow wetlands in Knob Noster State Park, Johnson County, Missouri
Thompson, Shannon C.
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Oxbows are portions of former river or stream channels that have become separated from the main channel over time. Despite a common origin they can be very different from each other because of unique hydrological conditions and distinctive soil conditions potentially resulting in the development of distinctive plant communities. Few ecological studies of oxbows have been conducted within Missouri. The primary purpose of this study was to survey and characterize oxbow wetland plant communities along Clearfork Creek floodplain, Knob Noster State Park, Johnson County, Missouri. A stratified random sampling was used to sample the herbaceous, shrub and sapling, and tree strata. Species cover estimates were determined for all vascular plant taxa. Communities were evaluated through relative important values, cluster analysis, and indicator species analysis. A total of 77 vascular plant species was identified during the course of the study comprising 60 dicot and 17 monocot species representing 37 plant families and 60 genera. The number of non-native species across the sites was 9. The average Coefficient of Conservatism (CC) value for all plants identified was 3.54. Noteworthy taxa with CC values of 7 or higher were Muskingum sedge (Carex muskingmensis Schwein.)(CC = 9), palegreen orchid (Platanthera flava (L.) Lindl.) (CC = 10), and swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor Willd)(CC = 7). There were differences in plant species composition among oxbow wetlands (P < 0.01). Analyses of 246 quadrats revealed five canopy and five herbaceous plant communities.