Bottomland Hardwood Forests
Bottomland hardwood forests are a type of wetland community found along the floodplains of rivers and streams. The timing, duration, and frequency of flooding play important roles in determining the type of vegetation present in these forests. Bottomland hardwood swamp communities have soils saturated with water much of the time and may have water present 10-12 months of the year. These areas are dominated by flood-tolerant tree species such as bald cypress and water tupelo. Areas with drier soils support additional hardwood trees such as cherrybark oak, sweet pecan, and winged elm, which are adapted to less frequent flooding.
Only 20-25% of the bottomland hardwood forests that occurred across Arkansas prior to European settlement remain today. Most of these forests were cleared for agriculture. As the bottomland hardwood forests disappeared, so did the ivory-billed woodpecker, Carolina parakeet, and Bachman's warbler. Even now, wetlands provide critical habitat for one third of the endangered plants and animals in the U.S. Bottomland hardwood forests are also important for flood protection and groundwater recharge. Federal and state agencies are working together with private landowners to restore these forested bottomlands in Arkansas.
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