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Life of a River - Biology
Terrestrial plants (pg 2 of 2)

Streamside plants are important sources of shade and energy in narrow headwater reaches. Throughout a stream's length, the vegetation along the riparian corridor intercepts flows of incoming runoff, nutrients and contaminants. Plants are critical components of nitrogen, carbon, and oxygen cycles-serving as production sites and conversion centers for life-sustaining elements. A biologically diverse plant community is more resilient to disturbances and disease than simplified communities or monocultures. (Tilman et al., 1996); (Tilman et al., 1997)

Deep-rooted native plants anchor soil in place and stabilize streambanks (see illustration at left). Plants at the water's edge also serve as buffers from bank erosion, absorbing the energy of lapping waves and swift currents.

And as we've discussed, the proportion of vegetation to paved surfaces throughout an entire watershed is an important factor in the water quality of that watershed (see Vertical Disconnects).

Left: Compare the root system of turf grass to root systems of native grasses and wildflowers.


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Introduction
Flow
Shape
Connections
Quality
Life
Description
Terrestrial plants
Terrestrial animals
Life cycles
Corridors
Refuges
Aquatic habitats
Adaptations
Continuum concept
Relationships
Consequences
Stories
Summary
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