Do riparian plant community characteristics differ between Tamarix (L.) invaded and non-invaded sites on the upper Verde River, Arizona?

Tyler D. Johnson, Thomas E Kolb, Alvin L. Medina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Invasion by Tamarix (L.) can severely alter riparian areas of the western U. S., which are globally rare ecosystems. The upper Verde River, Arizona, is a relatively free-flowing river and has abundant native riparian vegetation. Tamarix is present on the upper Verde but is a minor component of the vegetation (8% of stems). This study sought to determine whether riparian vegetation characteristics differed between sites where Tamarix was present and sites where Tamarix was absent during the invasion of the upper Verde. We hypothesized that herbaceous understory and woody plant communities would differ between Tamarix present and absent sites. Our hypothesis was generally confirmed, the two types of sites were different. Tamarix present sites had greater abundance of all vegetation, native understory species, graminoids, and native trees, and a positive association with perennial native wetland plant species. Tamarix absent sites had greater abundance of exotic plants and upland adapted plants and an association with greater abiotic cover and litter. These results are contrary to other reports of Tamarix association with depauperate riparian plant communities, and suggest that Tamarix invasion of a watershed with a relatively natural flow regime and a robust native plant community follows similar establishment patterns as the native riparian plant community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2487-2497
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Invasions
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2010



  • Arizona
  • Community analysis
  • Indicator Species Analysis
  • Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling (NMS)
  • Riparian
  • Saltcedar
  • Tamarisk
  • Tamarix
  • Verde River

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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