Spatiotemporal patterns and environmental drivers of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) abundance along the Missouri River, USA

Landscape Ecology
By: , and 



Context: Changes in disturbance regimes, including reductions in flooding and geomorphic dynamism from dam construction and flow regulation, have facilitated invasion by eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.), an upland tree species, in the understory of floodplain forests along the Missouri National Recreational River (MNRR).

Objectives: Our aim was to determine the spatiotemporal patterns and environmental drivers of redcedar invasion along the MNRR.

Methods: We used the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) calculated from winter Landsat imagery to construct a time series of maps showing spatial changes in redcedar abundance and distribution from 1982 to 2017 in both riparian and upland habitats along the MNRR. We determined how environmental factors (e.g., soil drainage ability, flood recurrence interval, 1980s LULC, lateral distance to the river, and channel incision) have influenced current (2017) redcedar occurrence and abundance in riparian habitats using random forest models (RFM).

Results: Time-series maps indicated that detectable redcedar cover occurred over less than 5% of the study area before 1985, increased steadily from 1985 to 2000, and more than tripled from 2000 to 2010. After 2010, redcedar abundance continued to increase in upland areas but declined following the 2011 Missouri River flood in the floodplain. RFMs indicated that river incision, distance to the river, soil drainage, 1984 LULC, and flood recurrence interval were important features influencing redcedar occurrence and abundance in the floodplain.

Conclusion: Unless preventive measures are implemented, lack of floods and ongoing flow regulation will enable the continued spread of redcedar along the MNRR and other regulated rivers in the eastern Great Plains.

Study Area

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatiotemporal patterns and environmental drivers of eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) abundance along the Missouri River, USA
Series title Landscape Ecology
DOI 10.1007/s10980-023-01632-y
Volume 38
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Columbia Environmental Research Center, Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
Description 19 p.
First page 1677
Last page 1695
Country United States
State Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota
Other Geospatial Missouri National Recreational River, Missouri River
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