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Data from: The hydrochorous dispersal of plant propagules in a giant river reservoir: implications for restoration of riparian vegetation

Citation

Su, Xiaolei et al. (2022), Data from: The hydrochorous dispersal of plant propagules in a giant river reservoir: implications for restoration of riparian vegetation, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.fn2z34tx7

Abstract

The riparian vegetation of many rivers around the world is impacted by flow regulation for hydropower. Water levels behind dams are being raised to generate electric energy, forming river reservoirs. River regulation has a large impact on the riparian vegetation which influences both the adjacent aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, restoration of degraded riparian vegetation in river reservoirs has been of increasing research interest.

Propagules dispersed from connected tributaries via water (hydrochory) are considered a vital source for the recovery of riparian vegetation in regulated rivers. However, the hydrochorous dispersal of plant propagules in river reservoirs is unclear. We explored the dispersal distance and deposition patterns of hydrochorous propagule mimics in three tributaries that are regulated by the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) in China.

In eight out of nine release experiments, 95% of propagule mimics were found within 3 km downstream from the release points. Cumulative wind speed was the most important factor affecting the dispersal distance of propagule mimics in the TGR. However, the dispersal distance of propagule mimics was not significantly affected by water-level variation and channel sinuosity. Variations in water level strongly affected the deposition pattern of propagule mimics, with only 6.6% of the propagule mimics stranding on the riparian zones under raised water level and 83.8% stranding under declined water levels. The majority of stranded propagule mimics were deposited at gentle slopes (0‒20°).

Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest that the majority of propagules that enter river reservoirs via water would be retained within the first few kilometers. Wind and water level variation are the main factors determining the dispersal distance and deposition pattern of propagules. Our findings have applications for riparian vegetation restoration in river reservoirs. The vegetation in steep riparian zones distant from free-flowing tributaries should be the priority for restoration actions because these areas receive limited hydrochorous propagules. The plant biodiversity and hydrological connectivity of connected tributaries, which is an important propagule sources for riparian vegetation along river reservoirs, should be protected. The seasonal dominant wind pattern should be considered when evaluating the importance of tributaries as the source of hydrochorous propagules for river reservoirs.

Usage Notes

Effects of environmental variables

The effects of environmental variables on the downstream dispersal distance of propagule mimics. Abbreviations: D90 (the distances when 90% of retrieved propagule mimics were retained), WaterLevel (water level variation), Sinuosity (channel sinuosity), NetWind_Down (cumulative net wind speed towards downstream direction), Width (channel width), FlowVelocity (flow velocity).

Filename: Table 2.CSV

Dispersal distance of propagule mimics

The dispersal distance of propagule mimics in three regulated tributaries. The positive and negative values in the column ‘Dispersal distance (km)’ indicate the downstream and upstream distance from the release points, respectively.

Filename: Figure 3.xlsx

Water level variation

The water level variation of the Three Gorges Reservoir (TGR) during the release period of propagule mimics. The positive and negative values in the column ‘Relative water level (m)’ indicate the water level of the TGR raised and declined, respectively.

Filename: Figure 4_Left.xlsx

Retrieved propagule mimics stranded on shorelines

The percentage of retrieved propagule mimics stranded on shorelines of three regulated rivers under raising and declining water levels.

Filename: Figure 4_Right.xlsx

Retained patterns of the retrieved propagule mimics

Percentage of the retrieved propagule mimics staying in the water and stranded on shorelines.

Filename: Figure 5_Left.xlsx

Propagule mimics stranded on different slope gradients

Percentage of propagule mimics stranded on riparian zones with different slope gradients. Seven instead of nine release events are shown because the other two release events had no propagule mimics stranding on shorelines.

Filename: Figure 5_Right.xlsx

The floating ability of propagule mimics with different painting patterns

Filename: Figure_S1.xlsx

Projected wind speed

Projected wind speed towards downstream (positive values) and upstream directions (negative values).

Filename: Figure_S3.xlsx

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China