River birch is intolerant of shade. It is an early pioneer on stream
bank alluvium, and requires high soil moisture coupled with no shade for
germination and establishment . River birch may be the initial
colonizer of sandbars, or may establish after sandbars are stabilized by
more flood-tolerant alders (Alnus spp.) or willows (Salix spp.) .
In Maryland, small stream valleys with shallow surface water are
colonized by hazel alder (Alnus serrulata), and then invaded by river
birch . River birch is the most common species on disturbed
streambanks in Tennessee. It readily establishes on the soils exposed
by stream channelization projects and remains important for a number of
years, even after canopy closure . Myers and Buchman  classify
river birch stands as subclimax; river birch usually follows willows and
is replaced by other hardwoods, generally oaks.
- 25. Penfound, William T. 1952. Southern swamps and marshes. The Botanical Review. 18: 413-446. 
- 13. Grelen, H. E. 1990. Betula nigra L. river birch. In: Burns, Russell M.; Honkala, Barbara H., technical coordinators. Silvics of North America. Volume 2. Hardwoods. Agric. Handb. 654. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 153-157. 
- 17. Hotchkiss, Neil; Stewart, Robert E. 1947. Vegetation of the Patuxent Research Refuge, Maryland. American Midland Naturalist. 38(1): 1-75. 
- 18. Hupp, Cliff R. 1992. Riparian vegetation recovery patterns following stream channelization: a geomorphic perspective. Ecology. 73(4): 1209-1226. 
- 24. Myers, Charles C.; Buchman, Roland G. 1984. Manager's handbook for elm-ash-cottonwood in the North Central States. Gen. Tech. Rep. NC-98. St. Paul, MN: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, North Central Forest Experiment Station. 11 p. 
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