• flooding;
  • mixed-effects models;
  • wet prairie;
  • wildlife habitat;
  • young forest


The 1993 flood of the Missouri River led to the abandonment of agriculture on considerable land in the floodplain. This abandonment led to a restoration opportunity for the U.S. Federal Government, purchasing those lands being sold by farmers. Restoration of this floodplain is complicated, however, by an imperfect understanding of its past environmental and vegetative conditions. We examined environmental conditions associated with the current placement of young forests and wet prairies as a guide to the potential successional trajectory for abandoned agricultural land subject to flooding. We used Bayesian mixed-effects logistic regression to examine the effects of flood frequency, soil drainage, distance from the main channel, and elevation on whether a site was in wet prairie or in forest. Study site was included as a random effect, controlling for site-specific differences not measured in our study. We found, after controlling for the effect of site, that early-successional forest sites were closer to the river and at a lower elevation but occurred on drier soils than wet prairie. In a regulated river such as the lower Missouri River, wet prairie sites are relatively isolated from the main channel compared to early-successional forest, despite occurring on relatively moister soils. The modeled results from this study may be used to predict the potential successional fate of the acquired agricultural lands, and along with information on wildlife assemblages associated with wet prairie and forest can be used to predict potential benefit of these acquisitions to wildlife conservation.