Bottomland oak afforestation in the lower Mississippi
The 11 million hectare Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV), which is the geologic floodplain of the lower Mississippi River, is a prominent physiographic region in the southern United States. Seven states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Missis- 1 sippi, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Tennessee) border the lower stretch of the II River, and have a portion of their land base in this alluvial physiographic region (Figure 1). Over the past 10,000 years, the River has meandered within the LMAV (Saucier 1994). These meanderings carved channels and deposited sediment loads that created a dynamic and heterogeneous landscape which is characterized by several geomorphic features or "sites" readily distinguished by soil characteristics and hydrologic regimes. The fertile alluvial soils and humid, temperate climate of the LMAV support broadleaf forests rich in species diversity, including no less than 15 species of bottomland oaks (Quercus spp.) (Stein et al. 2003). With such a diversity of bottomland oaks, the different species are found stratified among, and often as a dominant overstory component, on most of the sites across this alluvial landscape. The only exceptions are the most recently formed land adjacent to the river channel and the wettest swamp sites (Hodges 1997).