The Phoenix Four Rivers Flora, Maricopa County, Arizona

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ABSTRACT The Phoenix Four Rivers Flora is an inventory of all the vascular plants growing along the Salt, Gila, New and Agua Fria Rivers, and their tributaries in the

ABSTRACT The Phoenix Four Rivers Flora is an inventory of all the vascular plants growing along the Salt, Gila, New and Agua Fria Rivers, and their tributaries in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area during the years of the study (2009-2011). This floristic inventory documents the plant species and habitats that exist currently in the project area, which has changed dramatically from previous times. The data gathered by the flora project thus not only documents how the current flora has been altered by urbanization, but also will provide a baseline for future ecological studies. The Phoenix Metropolitan Area is a large urbanized region in the Sonoran Desert of Central Arizona, and its rivers are important for the region for many uses including flood control, waste water management, recreation, and gravel mining. The flora of the rivers and tributaries within the project area is extremely diverse; the heterogeneity of the systems being caused by urbanization, stream modification for flood control, gravel mining, and escaped exotic species. Hydrological changes include increased runoff in some areas because of impermeable surfaces (e.g. paved streets) and decreased runoff in other areas due to flood retention basins. The landscaping trade has introduced exotic plant species that have escaped into urban washes and riparian areas. Many of these have established with native species to form novel plant associations.