Environmental gradients across wetland vegetation groups in the arid slopes of Western Alborz Mountains, N. Iran

Asghar Kamrani, Alireza Naqinezhad, Adel Jalili, Farideh Attar

Abstract


Mountain wetlands are unique ecosystems in the arid southern slopes of Alborz range, the second largest range in Iran. The spatial distribution characteristics of wetland vegetation in the arid region of the Alborz and the main factors affecting their distributional patterns were studied. A classification of vegetation and ecological characteristics were carried out using data extracted from 430 relevés in 90 wetland sites. The data were analyzed using Two Way Indicator Species Analysis (TWINSPAN) and detrended correspondence analysis (DCA). The wetland vegetation of Alborz Mountain was classified into four large groups. The first vegetation group was calcareous rich vegetation, mainly distributed in the river banks and characterized by helophytes such as Bolboschoenus affinis as indicator species. The second group was saline transitional vegetation, distributed in the ecotone areas and dominated by Phragmites australis. The third vegetation group is wet meadow vegetation which mainly consists of geophytes, endemic and Irano-Turanian species, distributed in the higher altitudes. This vegetation is mainly characterized by indicator species such as Carex orbicularis, high level concentration of Fe2+ and percentage of organic matter in the soil. The fourth vegetation group is aquatic vegetation, distributed in the lakeshores. The aquatic group species are mainly hydrophytic such as Batrachium trichophyllum. The TWINSPAN vegetation groups could be also recognized in the DCA graphs and ecologically differentiated by ANOVA of studied variables. Four vegetation groups can be differentiated on two first axes of indirect ordination. There is a gradient of pH, EC and organic matter associated with altitude on the DCA diagram. Correlation analysis between the axes of DCA and environmental factors shows that altitude, soil texture and other dependant environmental variables (e.g. pH) are the main environmental factors affecting the distribution of wetland vegetation groups.

Keywords


altitudinal gradient; dry mountain wetlands; vegetation ordination; Western Alborz range; Iran

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