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Appendix 5





Riparian Communities Component
By Diana Walden

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Saugatuck River Evaluation
Riparian Communities Components
TNC and Aquarion 2008 Study

1.0 Introduction
As part of the larger efforts of the Rushing Rivers Institute to evaluate the Saugatuck and Aspetuck
Rivers in Southwestern Connecticut, a wetlands and wildlife scientist performed a general survey of the
vegetative communities in the established study sites in July 2008. The purpose of the investigation
was to locate and describe the communities that are intricately connected to the riverine system and
summarize their relationship with the flow regime. We were also tasked with identifying the wildlife
present in the riparian zone and establishing their dependence on habitat shaped by flows. To add to
the collection of information available for this river system, we have compiled a species list for plants
observed within the sites during the visit in July 2008. We also characterized each site with one or
several of the vegetative classifications used by Metzler and Barrett (2006). Due to the size and scope
of the project and extent of the remaining questions to be studied, we recognize that this is a cursory
look at the communities and species present in the riparian corridor.
1.1 Riparian Ecosystems
The basic definition of a riparian ecosystem is the land adjacent to a river, stream, or other body of
water that is at least periodically influenced by water (Naiman and Decamps 1997). However, not all
portions of riparian ecosystems necessarily meet the federal or state regulatory definition of wetlands,
as they may not be flooded or saturated for the required length of time during the growing season.
Riparian areas and vegetation are essential to the health and function of a river in numerous, complex
ways. Riparian areas provide leaf litter and organic materials to the riverine trophic system and rivers
in turn, exchange sediment and nutrients to floodplains and riparian areas. Riparian vegetation also
provides a buffer and filtration for excess sediment and nutrients that could cause pollution. Vegetation
along the stream bank provides shading which controls water temperature. Overhanging vegetation
also provides cover for fish and amphibians and egg deposition or resting sites for invertebrates such as
odonates. Continuous vegetation along a stream often serves as a migration corridor for many types of
wildlife. Root systems reduce erosion along stream banks and provide stability. Finally, connectivity
between a river and its floodplain attenuates floodwaters and reduces damage to property and natural
systems downstream. (Naiman and Decamps 1997, CRJC 2000, Gordon et al 2004).
1.2 Floodplain Dynamics
It is well documented in the literature that hydrology (including flow regime and connectivity between
the river and the floodplain) is a major factor in determining the vegetative community type along a
riparian corridor (Kozlowski 2002, Gordon et al 2004). The cycle of inundation and disturbance (along
with the geology or soil types in the area) certainly determine the presence of individual species as well
as the succession from one type of vegetative cover to the next. Rivers and riparian areas are highly
dynamic and are often characterized by disturbance. Dispersal strategies and timing of seeding for
floodplain species are often influenced by water levels and flood events (Jansson et al 2000). Annuals
and species identified as pioneers or invaders often dominate the alluvial materials that are regularly
scoured or deposited by floods. This often includes point bars and islands within the channels. Trees

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and woody species can establish at elevations or terraces where energy is lower and flooding is less
intense (Kozlowski 2002). Larger channel islands or bars do see the establishment of woody species.
Many woody riverine species are also considered pioneering or successional and have difficulty
establishing in conditions outside of the scoured, bare soils often present following a flood.
Specific species also establish along the available water regime and inundation gradient, as well as
along the type of sediment and soils deposited by the river (Kozlowski 2002). Coarse, sandy soils are
deposited immediately adjacent to a river, often forming a levee or bank where Eastern cottonwoods
(Populus deltoides), gray birch (Betula populifolia) sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and silver maple
(Acer saccharinum) grow. If this type of feature forms, it is often slightly drier and more well-drained
than the adjacent floodplain. Small breaks or low spots in the levee allow floodwater to reach these
bottomland areas. Finer, silty, more poorly drained materials are deposited further from the channel.
Black willow (Salix nigra) and speckled alder (Alnus rugosa) are often present in regularly inundated,
fine sediment deposits, while a community of red maple (Acer rubrum), American elm (Ulmus
americana), and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) often characterize the slightly less frequently
inundated tier (Kozlowski 2002). Finally, in the most upland, rarely flooded portion of the riparian
corridor, hickories (Carya) and white oak (Quercus alba) are often present. Naiman and Decamps
(1997) present Brinsons conceptual model that describes the effects of flood events of varying
frequency and power. The most infrequent but most powerful floods shape larger landscape features.
Floods of medium frequency and intensity affect the zonation of tree species and community types.
More frequent, lower intensity floods influence dispersal and establishment of new seedlings. Auble et
al (1999) also found that changes in minimum and maximum flow could affect the riparian vegetation,
even when the mean annual flow remains the same.
2.0 Community Types by Site
Our investigation found communities and species typically expected along a mid-size northeastern
river. The study area is in the larger region of the oak-hickory broadleaf deciduous forest (Metzler and
Barrett 2006). Typical canopy species include maples (Acer), oaks (Quercus), hickories, beech
(Fagus), birch (Betula), and ash (Fraxinus). Very few of the study sites have a large area of typical
floodplain forest or significant wetlands, but we did see a number of channel islands and point bars.
Some of the channel islands were older and established with woody species and trees while others were
colonized by emergent vegetation. Several of the adjacent forested areas showed obvious scouring and
high energy flow. Most banks appear to have a sand base, and exposed sand deposits were also present
in many areas. The following paragraphs describe the vegetative communities present at each site as
well as their potential flow needs.
2.1 Upper Aspetuck River: Wells Hill Road, Redding
The first site was located north and south of Wells Hill Road, extending south from the dam at Toth
Park to the Aspetuck Valley Country Club. A narrow buffer of forested vegetation was present between
the river and Redding Road on the left (eastern) bank, with a wider buffer on the right (western) bank.
Both banks had forested areas interspersed with residences and maintained areas in close proximity to
the river. Portions to the south of the site were either maintained or planted almost to the banks of the
channel due to the presence of the golf course. Soils were sandy with obvious deposition in many areas.
Observed canopy species were a mix of wet and drier species and include Tuliptree (Liriodendron
tulipifera), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer
saccharum), sassafrass (Sassafrass albidum), weeping willow (Salix sepulcralis), cottonwood (Populus

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deltoides), white ash (Fraxinus americana), green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica), Norway spruce (Picea
abies), and white pine (Pinus strobus). Other woody shrub species include spicebush (Lindera
benzoin), and the invasive species, burningbush (Euonymus alatus), multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora),
and Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii). The invasive vine Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus
orbiculata) was also observed. Herbaceous species such as jewelweed (Impatiens capensis),
enchanters nightshade (Circaea lutetiana), false nettle (Boehmeria cylindrica) whorled loosestrife
(Lysimachia quadrifolia), tall meadow rue (Thalictrum pubescens), sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis),
lurid sedge (Carex lurida), poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), beggarstick (Bidens frondosa), and
jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) were present.
Although species descriptions are not exactly accurate, the overall community is best described with
Metzler and Barretts (2006) silver maple - Eastern cottonwood temporarily flooded forests category;
specifically the silver maple/sensitive fern community. The flow regime is described as seasonal
flooding/inundation that quickly drains after floodwaters recede.
2.2 Mid-Aspetuck River: Old Redding Road to Judge Hollow Road, Easton CT
The second site was located moving south of Old Redding Road to Judges Hollow Road. A wider
forested buffer was present on the right bank as the left bank ran approximately parallel to Route 136,
leaving a fairly narrow strip of vegetation between the road and river. Through the majority of this
stretch, either one bank or the other was manipulated with riprap or other walled structures. Residences
and maintained areas are located in close proximity to the river. The remainder of the stretch was
forested. Moving south off Old Redding Road, riprap is in place along the right bank in order to
prevent erosion to the yard of a residence. Once past the residence, the right bank opens into a larger
forested area. Topography rapidly moves up gradient and a number of drier forest species characterize
a hillside here. Observed species include shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), Northern red oak (Quercus
rubra), ironwood (Carpinus caroliniana), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), tuliptree, sassafrass,
mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), and wood fern
(Dryopteris spp.). The invasive forb, garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) was also noted. This
community is best described with Metzler and Barretts (2006) Northern red oak - flowering dogwood
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forests category; specifically the Northern red oak/maple-leaf viburnum community. This
characterization falls within the mesic acidic forest class and the flow gradient is moderately to well-
drained soils.
Closer to the channel banks, species like Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), tuliptree, red maple,
sugar maple, black birch (Betula lenta), green ash, spicebush, witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana),
Jack in the pulpit, white wood aster (Eurybia divaricata), white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda), and
skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) were observed. The invasive species multiflora rose, Japanese
barberry, and Asiatic bittersweet were also present. Although species descriptions are not exactly
accurate, the overall community is best described with Metzler and Barretts (2006) sugar maple-white
ash-American basswood forests category; specifically the sugar maple/white ash/New York fern. It
also shows similarity to the sugar maple white ash roundlobe hepatica community within the sugar
maple oak category. The community is typically present along stream sides or wetland borders but
remains somewhat dry.


1
Metzler and Barrett (2006) note that the high populations of White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can alter the shrub
layer. We noted evidence of White-tailed deer in this site which may explain why flowering dogwood was not observed.

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Several islands were noted in the center of the channel in this section. Most had several mature trees,
including sycamore and green ash individuals up to 40 to 50 feet tall. Some portions of the island were
colonized by emergent species including Pennsylvania smartweed (polygonum pennsylvanicum), false
nettle, water horehound (Lycopus americanus), swamp candles (Lysimachia terrestris), deer tongue
grass (Dichanthelium clandestinum), dark green bulrush (Scirpus atrovirens), and Virginia creeper
(Parthenocissus quinquefolia). A forested area along the stream bank with similar species, showed
signs of high energy and scouring with a sandy, gravel, and cobble wash. Large individual maples, ash,
oaks, and beech were present. Although species descriptions are not exactly accurate, the overall
community is best described with Metzler and Barretts (2006) American sycamore box elder
temporarily flooded forests category. This community is typically located on riverbanks and point bars
influenced by scouring and depositional forces.
A final community in this site located near Judges Hollow Road consisted of thicker emergent
vegetation and grape vine (Vitis spp.) in a small inlet or backwater. Species observed include
spicebush, skunk cabbage, beggarstick, Pennsylvania smartweed, jewelweed, sensitive fern, cinnamon
fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), and arrow-leaf tearthumb (Polygonum sagittatum). Although species
descriptions are not exactly accurate, the overall community is best described with Metzler and
Barretts (2006) red maple skunk cabbage seasonally flooded forests category; specifically the red
maple Northern spicebush. This community is typically located along drainageways with a wet to
somewhat wet moisture regime.
2.3 Lower-Aspetuck River: North Avenue, Westport, CT
This site was located moving northeast and southwest of North Avenue. A fairly narrow forested buffer
is present on the left bank as it continues to run approximately parallel to Coleytown Road. Again, in
some areas, residences and maintained/landscaped lawns are located in close proximity to the river.
Moving northeast off North Avenue, a wash area characterized by scouring and deposition was
observed on the left bank between the river and roadway. A wetland with distinct drainage patterns and
obvious connections to the river flow was noted. A small split in the stream channel has also formed
around an island. The area contained abundant woody debris and a few large snags, important for
wildlife. Dominant species include sugar maple, white oak (Quercus alba), green ash, sycamore (very
large individuals), American elm, spicebush, ironwood, false nettle, skunk cabbage, deer tongue grass,
Pennsylvania smartweed, jewelweed, beggarstick, and white wood aster. The invasive forb, garlic
mustard was also noted while the invasive shrub burningbush was dominant in the shrub layer. The
overall community is best described with Metzler and Barretts (2006) American sycamore box elder
temporarily flooded forests category. This community is typically located on riverbanks and point bars
influenced by scouring and depositional forces.
Moving southwest off North Avenue, additional areas of wash, scouring and deposition were observed.
The area appears to be a high energy system with significant piles of sand, cobble and gravel along the
right bank. Numerous common Eliptio mussel shells were interspersed with the gravel in this area. The
left bank was very steep and armored. Dominant species along the banks and in the narrow floodplain
include sycamores, black cherry (Prunus serotina), green ash, red maple (very large individuals),
mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), ironwood, false nettle, celandine (Chelidonium majus), Monkey-
flower (Mimulus ringens) (see state listed species section below), Pennsylvania smartweed, wood fern,
and whorled wood aster (Odemena acuminata). The invasive vine, Asiatic bittersweet was also noted.
Moving downstream, landowners have landscaped and planted along the river. Bamboo plantings were
present and it appears they have the potential to spread. The overall community is also best described

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with Metzler and Barretts (2006) American sycamore box elder temporarily flooded forests category.
This community is typically located on riverbanks and point bars influenced by scouring and
depositional forces.
Slightly further downstream we did observe a clearing where the community shifted. Hickories and
maples were present but we also observed the invasive trees, black locust (Robinia pseudo-acacia) and
tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima). Ground cover was thick with goldenrods (Solidago spp.),
bedstraw (Galium spp.), wild garlic (Allium canadense), grape vine, and blue vervain (Verbena
hastata).
2.4 Lower-Aspetuck River: North Avenue, Westport, CT
This site was located moving northeast and southwest of North Avenue. A fairly narrow forested buffer
is present on the left bank as it continues to run approximately parallel to Coleytown Road. Again, in
some areas, residences and maintained/landscaped lawns are located in close proximity to the river.
Moving northeast off North Avenue, a wash area characterized by scouring and deposition was
observed on the left bank between the river and roadway. A wetland with distinct drainage patterns and
obvious connections to the river flow was noted. A small split in the stream channel has also formed
around an island. The area contained abundant woody debris and a few large snags, important for
wildlife. Dominant species include sugar maple, white oak (Quercus alba), green ash, sycamore (very
large individuals), American elm, spicebush, ironwood, false nettle, skunk cabbage, deer tongue grass,
Pennsylvania smartweed, jewelweed, beggarstick, and white wood aster. The invasive forb, garlic
mustard was also noted while the invasive shrub burningbush was dominant in the shrub layer. The
overall community is best described with Metzler and Barretts (2006) American sycamore box elder
temporarily flooded forests category. This community is typically located on riverbanks and point bars
influenced by scouring and depositional forces.
2.5 Confluence Aspetuck and Saugatuck Rivers: Ford Road, Westport, CT
A noticeable community shift occurs below the confluence of the Aspetuck and Saugatuck Rivers. The
channel becomes much wider and appears to have a slower velocity with less concentrated energy and
scour. Emergent vegetation becomes more prevalent than it had been along the Aspetuck sites. Even
in this area, larger businesses and developments are interspersed along the banks. Sycamores,
American elms, maples, ashes and hickories are still present but more willows (Salix spp) were noted.
Basswood (Tilia americana) is also common along the bank. At least one forested island was observed
in the center of the channel with Norway spruce, and weeping willows. A second large island was
observed near 25 Ford Road but vegetation was predominantly emergent. Vegetation was not analyzed
closely but it is likely deer tongue grass, Pennsylvania smartweed, jewelweed, and reed canary grass
(Arundinacea) are among the dominant species. The invasive forb, purple loosestrife (Lythrum
salicaria) was also noted.
2.6 Lower Saugatuck Rivers: River Road,
This site is accessed through a small public park (Keen Park) and located moving north from the river
crossing with River Road. It was the first of the areas we investigated where we observed a more
significant wetland system with connections to the stream channel. Tributaries to the main channel and
backwater contribute to a red maple and skunk cabbage swamp along the left bank. The wetland
system has a few different cover types with one area dominated by Eastern hemlock (Tsuga

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canadensis), yellow birch, and American beech. Other woody species include tuliptree, ironwood,
basswood, American elm, witch hazel, spicebush, sweet pepperbush, American hazelnut (Corylus
americana), and speckled alder (Alnus rugosa). Herbaceous species include sensitive fern, white wood
aster, Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), groundnut (Apios americana), white lettuce
(Prenanthes alba), poison ivy, Pennsylvania smartweed, and deer tongue grass. Several invasive
species were observed including purple loosestrife, Japanese barberry, Asiatic bittersweet, and
burningbush. The overall community is a combination of Metzler and Barretts (2006) red maple
skunk cabbage seasonally flooded forests and Eastern hemlock seasonally flooded forests categories.
The red maple community is described as requiring a wet soil regime and is typically flooded in the
spring. The Eastern hemlock community often has surface water in the topographic hollows through
most of the growing season.
Another Metzler and Barrett (2006) community was observed along the river banks and on some
smaller channel islands. Vegetation was predominantly emergent and includes the state listed species
Lizards tail (see discussion below). The community is described as a green arrow arum lizardss tail
semipermanently flooded forb community. Species also include deer tongue grass, Pennsylvania
smartweed, jewelweed, purple loosestrife (scattered), and forget-me-not (Myosotis scorpiodes). This
community is rare and requires ponding through much of the year. Due to the rare status, this
community should be considered the one most sensitive to flow change out of the sites investigated.
2.6 Upper Saugatuck Rivers: Below the Reservoir,
The channel is fairly steep and high-gradient through this site. There is a low connection between the
flow and the adjacent vegetative community due to the topography. A cursory investigation of the area
identifies Eastern hemlock, yellow birch, and American beech as the likely dominant species.
3.0 Wildlife Habitat Evaluation
A variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates likely use many areas along both
the Saugatuck and Aspetuck for habitat. It also likely serves as a migratory corridor. However, wildlife
use is probably reduced or restricted to some degree due to the number of residences that maintain
areas up to the bank or that have altered the banks and channel. Often, the forested corridor is
relatively narrow due to roads running parallel in close proximity to the river. Due to the disturbance
noted in many areas, the species present along the river are most likely those you would typically find
in suburban habitats. Signs of cottontail rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus), whitetail deer (Odocoileus
virginianus), raccoon (Procylon lotor), woodchucks (Marmota monax), eastern chipmunks (Tamias
striatus), Red-tailed Hawk, and a number of passerine and amphibian species were observed. We would
also expect to find coyotes, Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana), foxes, skunks and many small
mammals.
Some trees and shrubs on the sites provide fruits, nuts, seeds, foliage, and insects as food for wildlife.
Common wildlife food plants found within the sites include grape, highbush blueberry, hickories, oaks,
beech, hazelnut, and goldenrods.
Areas with abundant woody debris were observed along the bank. Woody debris and brush piles can
benefit many species of wildlife. Salamanders rely on the moisture, shelter and microhabitat found
beneath a rotting log. Small mammals find cover in dead limbs and downed wood, while spiders,
beetles, worms, and microbes move and feed within the decaying matter, establishing a base for the
food web.

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Standing dead trees (Snags) were noted in most of the sites. They were especially prevalent and of
significant size at the lower Saugatuck site off River Road. Snags are used by wildlife species for
feeding, nesting, denning, roosting, or perching. Large diameter snags can serve as dens for the
raccoon, Virginia opossum, and fisher (Martes pennanti). The wood duck (Aix sponsa) also nest in
large cavities in snags. Downy (Picoides pubescens), hairy (Picoides villosus), and pileated
(Dryocopus pileatus) woodpeckers all feed on invertebrates found in snags, and contribute to the
excavation of the cavities used by other species. Some birds of prey will use snags for perching.
Due to the high prevalence of bank armoring, crevices were noted along the riprap walls and stream
channels. Although not a natural source, the crevices still provide some habitat value. Crevices often
provide cover for small mammals, reptiles, and some amphibians.
4.0 State-listed Species
During our investigation, Lizards Tail was the only Connecticut state-listed species that we definitively
identified. However, based on the physical characteristics of both the Saugatuck and the Aspetuck
Rivers, it seems that habitat would be present to support the wood turtle (Glyptemys insculpta). This
species of special concern has not been identified in the current or past surveys but the rivers appear to
provide appropriate overwintering habitat and suitable adjacent land cover types in the less developed
areas. It would not be surprising if this species is present in the watershed. We also noted the presence
of Monkey-flower (Mimulus ringens) in a number of locations, specifically south of North Avenue on
the Aspetuck. A second species of Mimulus, Winged monkey-flower (M alatus) is listed as a species of
special concern and has similar habitat needs to M. ringens. Some of the individuals observed
appeared to have the shorter flower stalk that is characteristic of M. alatus but it could not be positively
identified. Both species require wet areas, including shady stream banks and especially where soils are
alluvial. The individuals observed along the Aspetuck were located in an area with a strong connection
to the river channel and associated energy and scouring.
The following paragraphs provide additional information on the Saugatuck River population of
Lizards Tail.
4.1 Lizards Tail
Lizards Tail (Saururus cernuus) is an herbaceous, perennial plant species with an endangered status in
Connecticut and Rhode Island. However, in many southern states, this species is relatively common
and is actually considered weedy or invasive. Its global conservation status is secure. This species has
high water needs, grows in saturated soils or standing water, and has an obligate wetland indicator
status. An obligate status signifies that this species is found 99% of the time in wetland areas. Lizards
tail is found in swampy areas and along the edges of ponds and streams. It can typically withstand 4
inches of inundation by standing water (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Society www.wildflower.org).
Other sources have found that Lizards Tail can survive up to 1 foot of inundation but will experience
stress and mortality when inundated more than 3 feet for extended periods of time (i.e up to two weeks)
(Thunhorst 1993). It reproduces through seeds and rhizomes and can form large colonies in suitable
conditions. Pieces of broken rhizomes can establish in new areas which also is important in the
continuation of the population (Batcher 2002). It is used by wildlife for cover and food and as egg
deposition for invertebrates.
Our observations of Lizards Tail in the Saugatuck River Watershed were consistent with the species

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description provided. Relatively large colonies of this species were observed in the Saugatuck River
north of the Davis Hill Road crossing and near the Park off River Road. The plants were located along
the shallow margins of the stream, in some backwater areas, and on small riparian islands in the center
of the channel. The Saugatuck River population is the largest known in Southern New England and the
New England Plant Conservation Program of the New England Wildflower Society identifies this area
as the main objective in the regional conservation of this species (Batcher 2002). Batcher (2002) also
identifies the major threats to the species as succession of shrubs/trees into its habitat, siltation,
competition from invasive species (particularly purple loosestrife; Lythrum salicaria), and alteration of
natural flow regime.
In order to sustain the Saugatuck River colonies, flows should not be lowered to the point where the
small islands no longer have saturated soils and they should not be so high that shallow margins are not
maintained. Batcher (2002) indicates that the summer growing season would be the most critical time
to avoid long term inundation of this species. It seems to thrive in the natural flow patterns of streams
with higher, inundating flows in the winter and spring with natural lowering in the summer (Batcher
2002).
5.0 Threats to Saugatuck River Watershed Riparian Areas
Development
One of the questions posed in the scope/request for proposal asked whether lateral channel migration
and bar formation were important in establishing the physical habitat for riparian vegetation and
wildlife. However, in many of the areas examined, at least one bank is being actively managed by
human use. Many private homeowners have developed or landscaped up to the river channel and many
armored banks and constructed walls were observed. The walls and structures are likely present in an
attempt to reduce erosion and private property damage, but this also restricts the river from its natural
pattern. Smaller flood events will not be able to scour and deposit the material necessary to form these
areas. These dynamics were more visible below the confluence of the Saugatuck and Aspetuck Rivers
where larger islands with emergent vegetation were present.
Invasive Species
A number of invasive species were identified in each of the study sites throughout the watershed.
Species such as Japanese barberry, Asiatic bittersweet, tree-of-heaven, garlic mustard, multiflora rose,
and winged euonymus were common. Invasive or exotic species can easily move along riparian
corridors as seeds are often carried by wildlife using the corridor. The regular disturbance of flooding
and scouring provides opportunities for these types of species to establish (Naiman and Decamps
1997). Invasive species are detrimental to native plants due to their aggressive nature and high
proliferation. These species may provide some uses to wildlife but are usually substandard food and
nutrition sources when compared to native species.
Regulated Flow Regime
As previously identified, many species (e.g. poplars and willows) use annual regular frequency floods
and water levels as cues to drop their seeds while intermediate frequency floods shape the community
zones of species moving out from the channel (Naiman and Decamps 1997). Research reviewed in
Naiman and Decamps (1997) indicates that flood levels influencing seedlings and regeneration occur

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every 8 years while those affecting zonation occur every 10-15 years. Research performed by Jansson
et al (2000) found that plant species richness is generally lower along the margins of regulated rivers,
likely because species are sensitive to changes in both frequency and timing of higher water levels.
The authors also found that in regulated rivers, species with good dispersal strategies (such as wind or
long-floating water dispersal) were more common. Species that have a floating dispersal strategy with
shorter seed viability were less represented than in non-regulated rivers (Jansson et al 2000). Therefore,
the regulated flow should follow natural patterns to the extent feasible. As Auble et al (1994) indicated,
maintaining an average yearly flow alone is not sufficient. Timing and frequency of minimum and
maximum flows has to mimic the non-regulated system regime.
Suggestions for future study to get a better sense of the relationship between the flow of the Saugatuck
River and riparian vegetation would include a long-term evaluation with a number of plots assessing
species and cover. Plots could be placed in locations within the watershed upstream and downstream
of the reservoir, and paired using similar habitat and channel characteristics with regulated flow being
the studied variable. The plots would be analyzed for vegetation, percent cover and level of inundation
over several flow levels.