Matching Items (11)

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Impact of restoration practices on mycorrhizal inoculum potential in a semi-arid riparian ecosystem

Description

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing nutrient and water availability to plants and improving soil stability. Mechanical disturbance of soil has been found to reduce mycorrhizal inoculum

Mycorrhizal fungi form symbiotic relationships with plant roots, increasing nutrient and water availability to plants and improving soil stability. Mechanical disturbance of soil has been found to reduce mycorrhizal inoculum in soils, but findings have been inconsistent. To examine the impact of restoration practices on riparian mycorrhizal inoculum potential, soil samples were collected at the Tres Rios Ecosystem Restoration and Flood Control Project located at the confluence of the Salt, Gila, and Agua Fria rivers in central Arizona. The project involved the mechanical removal of invasive Tamarix spp.( tamarisk, salt cedar) and grading prior to revegetation. Soil samples were collected from three stages of restoration: pre-restoration, soil banks with chipped vegetation, and in areas that had been graded in preparation for revegetation. Bioassay plants were grown in the soil samples and roots analyzed for arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and ectomycorrhizal (EM) infection percentages. Vegetations measurements were also taken for woody vegetation at the site. The mean number of AM and EM fungal propagules did not differ between the three treatment area, but inoculum levels did differ between AM and EM fungi with AM fungal propagules detected at moderate levels and EM fungi at very low levels. These differences may have been related to availability of host plants since AM fungi form associations with a variety of desert riparian forbs and grasses and EM fungi only form associations with Populus spp. and Salix spp. which were present at the site but at low density and canopy cover. Prior studies have also found that EM fungi may be more affected by tamarisk invasions than AM fungi. Our results were similar to other restoration projects for AM fungi suggesting that it may not be necessary to add AM fungi to soil prior to planting native vegetation because of the moderate presence of AM fungi even in soils dominated by tamarisk and exposed to soil disturbance during the restoration process. In contrast when planting trees that form EM associations, it may be beneficial to augment soil with EM fungi collected from riparian areas or to pre-inoculate plants prior to planting.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Spatial and temporal patterns in insectivorous bat activity in river-riparian landscapes

Description

River and riparian areas are important foraging habitat for insectivorous bats. Numerous studies have shown that aquatic insects provide an important trophic resource to terrestrial consumers, including bats, and

River and riparian areas are important foraging habitat for insectivorous bats. Numerous studies have shown that aquatic insects provide an important trophic resource to terrestrial consumers, including bats, and are key in regulating population size and species interactions in terrestrial food webs. Yet these studies have generally ignored how structural characteristics of the riverine landscape influence trophic resource availability or how terrestrial consumers respond to ensuing spatial and temporal patterns of trophic resources. Moreover, few studies have examined linkages between a stream's hydrologic regime and the timing and magnitude of aquatic insect availability. The main objective of my dissertation is to understand the causes of bat distributions in space and time. Specifically, I examine how trophic resource availability, structural components of riverine landscapes (channel confinement and riparian vegetation structure), and hydrologic regimes (flow permanence and timing of floods) mediate spatial and temporal patterns in bat activity. First, I show that river channel confinement determines bat activity along a river's longitudinal axis (directly above the river), while trophic resources appear to have stronger effects across a river's lateral (with distance from the river) axis. Second, I show that flow intermittency affects bat foraging activity indirectly via its effects on trophic resource availability. Seasonal river drying appears to have complex effects on bat foraging activity, initially causing imperfect tracking by consumers of localized concentrations of resources but later resulting in disappearance of both insects and bats after complete river drying. Third, I show that resource tracking by bats varies among streams with contrasting patterns of trophic resource availability and this variation appears to be in response to differences in the timing of aquatic insect emergence, duration and magnitude of emergence, and adult body size of emergent aquatic insects. Finally, I show that aquatic insects directly influence bat activity along a desert stream and that riparian vegetation composition affects bat activity, but only indirectly, via effects on aquatic insect availability. Overall, my results show river channel confinement, riparian vegetation structure, flow permanence, and the timing of floods influence spatial and temporal patterns in bat distributions; but these effects are indirect by influencing the ability of bats to track trophic resources in space and time.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Free water fuels intraguild predation in a riparian food web

Description

In desert riparian ecosystems, rivers provide free water but access to that water diminishes with distance producing a steep gradient in the relative importance of water for growth and reproduction

In desert riparian ecosystems, rivers provide free water but access to that water diminishes with distance producing a steep gradient in the relative importance of water for growth and reproduction of riparian animals and hence, their biodiversity. Previous work suggests that water limited riparian predators eat more prey to meet their water demand where free water is not available. Here I explore the effect of water limitation on prey selection and per capita interaction strengths between a predatory spider ( Hogna antelucana) and two prey species occupying different trophic levels using a controlled field experiment conducted in the riparian forest of the San Pedro River, Cochise County, AZ. Lab measurements of water and energy content revealed that intermediate predators (smaller spiders in the genus Pardosa) had 100-fold higher energy: water ratios than an alternate prey species more basal in the food web (crickets in the genus Gryllus). Given this observation, I hypothesized that water-stressed predatory wolf spiders would select more water-laden crickets but switch to more energy rich Pardosa when water stress was experimentally eliminated. Additionally, I hypothesized that switching by quenched Hogna to Pardosa would reduce predation by Pardosa on Gryllus leading to increased abundance of the basal resource. Finally, I hypothesized that water mediated switching and release of basal prey would be stronger when male Hogna was the apex predator, because female Hogna have higher energetic costs of reproduction and hence, stronger energy limitation. Experimental water additions caused both sexes of Hogna to consume significantly higher numbers of Pardosa but this difference (between water and no-water treatments) did not vary significantly between male and female Hogna treatments. Similarly, strong negative interaction strengths between Hogna and Pardosa led to release of the basal prey species and positive interaction strengths of Hogna on Gryllus. Again strong positive, indirect effects of Hogna on Gryllus did not depend on the sex of the Hogna predator. However, water mediated indirect effects of Hogna (either sex) on Gryllus were the strongest for male Gryllus. These results suggest that water and energy co-dominate foraging decisions by predators and that in managing water-energy balance; predators can modify interaction pathways, sex-ratios of prey populations and trophic dynamics.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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Environmental controls on clogging in effluent-dominated waterways

Description

The Santa Cruz River, in southern Arizona, receives steady inputs of nutrient-enriched treated wastewater (effluent). Previous studies have documented reduced infiltration of surface water in the river. This disruption of

The Santa Cruz River, in southern Arizona, receives steady inputs of nutrient-enriched treated wastewater (effluent). Previous studies have documented reduced infiltration of surface water in the river. This disruption of hydrologic connectivity, or clogging, can have consequences for groundwater recharge, flows of wastewater in unwanted locations, and potentially even survivorship of floodplain riparian vegetation. Clogging can result from biotic processes (microbial or algal growth), abiotic processes (siltation of interstitial spaces), or both. Little is known about clogging in rivers and the environmental factors that regulate their dynamics, so natural field experiments along the Santa Cruz and San Pedro Rivers were used to answer: 1) Are there spatial patterns of hydraulic conductivity in the riverbed downstream from the effluent point-source? 2) Is there temporal variability in hydraulic conductivity and microbial abundance associated with flooding? 3) Are there environmental variables, such as nutrients or stream flow, related to differences in hydraulic conductivity and microbial abundance? To address these questions, a series of sites at increasing distance from two municipal effluent discharge points with differing water quality were selected on the Santa Cruz River and compared with non-effluent control reaches of the San Pedro River. Physical, chemical, and biological parameters were monitored over one year to capture seasonal changes and flood cycles.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Response of waterbird communities to habitat and landscape structure along an urban gradient in Phoenix, Arizona

Description

Urban riparian corridors have the capacity to maintain high levels of abundance and biodiversity. Additionally, urban rivers also offer environmental amenities and can be catalysts for social and economic revitalization

Urban riparian corridors have the capacity to maintain high levels of abundance and biodiversity. Additionally, urban rivers also offer environmental amenities and can be catalysts for social and economic revitalization in human communities. Despite its importance for both humans and wildlife, blue space in cities used by waterbirds has received relatively little focus in urban bird studies. My principal objective was to determine how urbanization and water availability affect waterbird biodiversity in an arid city. I surveyed 36 transects stratified across a gradient of urbanization and water availability along the Salt River, a LTER long-term study system located in Phoenix, Arizona. Water physiognomy (shape and size) was the largest factor in shaping the bird community. Connectivity was an important element for waterbird diversity, but not abundance. Urbanization had guild-specific effects on abundance but was not important for waterbird diversity. Habitat-level environmental characteristics were more important than land use on waterbird abundance, as well as diversity. Diving and fish-eating birds were positively associated with large open bodies of water, whereas dabbling ducks, wading birds, and marsh species favored areas with large amounts of shoreline and emergent vegetation. My study supports that Phoenix blue space offers an important subsidy to migrating waterbird communities; while alternative habitat is not a replacement, it is important to consider as part of the larger conservation picture as traditional wetlands decline. Additionally, arid cities have the potential to support high levels of waterbird biodiversity, heterogeneous land use matrix can be advantageous in supporting regional diversity, and waterbirds are tolerant of urbanization if proper resources are provided via the habitat. The implications of this study are particularly relevant to urban planning in arid cities; Phoenix alone contains over 1,400 bodies of water, offering the opportunity to design and improve urban blue space to optimize potential habitat while providing public amenities.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Plant community composition along the historic Verde River irrigation system: does hydrochory play a role?

Description

As an industrial society, humans have increasingly separated agricultural processes from natural ecosystems. Many areas of the Southwestern US, however, maintain traditional practices that link agricultural systems to the

As an industrial society, humans have increasingly separated agricultural processes from natural ecosystems. Many areas of the Southwestern US, however, maintain traditional practices that link agricultural systems to the natural environment. One such practice, diverting river water into fields via earthen irrigation canals, allows ditch water to recharge groundwater and riparian vegetation to prosper along canal banks. As there is growing interest in managing landscapes for multiple ecosystem services, this study was undertaken to determine if irrigation canals function as an extension of the riparian corridor. I was specifically interested in determining if the processes within semi-arid streams that drive riparian plant community structure are manifested in earthen irrigation ditches. I examined herbaceous and woody vegetation along the middle Verde River, AZ, USA and three adjacent irrigation ditches across six months. I also collected sieved hydrochores--seeds dispersing through water--within ditches and the river twelve times. Results indicate that ditch vegetation was similar to streamside river vegetation in abundance (cover and basal area) due to surface water availability but more diverse than river streamside vegetation due to high heterogeneity. Compositionally, herbaceous vegetation along the ditch was most similar to the river banks, while low disturbance fostered woody vegetation along the ditches similar to high floodplain and river terrace vegetation. Hydrochore richness and abundance within the river was dependent on seasonality and stream discharge, but these relationships were dampened in the ditches. Species-specific strategies of hydrochory, however, did emerge in both systems. Strategies include pulse species, which disperse via hydrochory in strict accordance with their restricted dispersal windows, constant species, which are year round hydrochores, and combination species, which show characteristics of both. There was high overlap in the composition of hydrochores in the two systems, with obligate wetland species abundant in both. Upland species were more seasonally constant and abundant in the ditch water than the river. The consistency of river processes and similarity of vegetation suggest that earthen irrigation ditches do function as an extension of the riparian corridor. Thus, these man-made irrigation ditches should be considered by stakeholders for their multiple ecosystem services.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2010

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Effluent-dominated waterways in the southwestern United States: advancing water policy through ecological analysis

Description

Over the past century in the southwestern United States human actions have altered hydrological processes that shape riparian ecosystems. One change, release of treated wastewater into waterways, has created perennial

Over the past century in the southwestern United States human actions have altered hydrological processes that shape riparian ecosystems. One change, release of treated wastewater into waterways, has created perennial base flows and increased nutrient availability in ephemeral or intermittent channels. While there are benefits to utilizing treated wastewater for environmental flows, there are numerous unresolved ecohydrological issues regarding the efficacy of effluent to sustain groundwater-dependent riparian ecosystems. This research examined how nutrient-rich effluent, released into waterways with varying depths to groundwater, influences riparian plant community development. Statewide analysis of spatial and temporal patterns of effluent generation and release revealed that hydrogeomorphic setting significantly influences downstream riparian response. Approximately 70% of effluent released is into deep groundwater systems, which produced the lowest riparian development. A greenhouse study assessed how varying concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus, emulating levels in effluent, influenced plant community response. With increasing nitrogen concentrations, vegetation emerging from riparian seed banks had greater biomass, reduced species richness, and greater abundance of nitrophilic species. The effluent-dominated Santa Cruz River in southern Arizona, with a shallow groundwater upper reach and deep groundwater lower reach, served as a study river while the San Pedro River provided a control. Analysis revealed that woody species richness and composition were similar between the two systems. Hydric pioneers (Populus fremontii, Salix gooddingii) were dominant at perennial sites on both rivers. Nitrophilic species (Conium maculatum, Polygonum lapathifolium) dominated herbaceous plant communities and plant heights were greatest in effluent-dominated reaches. Riparian vegetation declined with increasing downstream distance in the upper Santa Cruz, while patterns in the lower Santa Cruz were confounded by additional downstream agricultural input and a channelized floodplain. There were distinct longitudinal and lateral shifts toward more xeric species with increasing downstream distance and increasing lateral distance from the low-flow channel. Patterns in the upper and lower Santa Cruz reaches indicate that water availability drives riparian vegetation outcomes below treatment facilities. Ultimately, this research informs decision processes and increases adaptive capacity for water resources policy and management through the integration of ecological data in decision frameworks regarding the release of effluent for environmental flows.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Damming ephemeral streams: understanding biogeomorphic shifts and implications to traversed streams due to the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal, Arizona

Description

Ephemeral streams in Arizona that are perpendicularly intersected by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal have been altered due to partial or complete damming of the stream channel. The dammed

Ephemeral streams in Arizona that are perpendicularly intersected by the Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal have been altered due to partial or complete damming of the stream channel. The dammed upstream channels have experienced decades long cycles of sediment deposition and waterlogging during storm events causing the development of "green-up" zones. This dissertation examines the biogeomorphological effects of damming ephemeral streams caused by the CAP canal by investigating: (1) changes in the preexisting spatial cover of riparian vegetation and how these changes are affected by stream geometry; (2) green-up initiation and evolution; and (3) changes in plant species and community level changes. To the author's knowledge, this is the only study that undertakes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the environmental responses to anthropogenically-altered ephemeral stream channels. The results presented herein show that vegetation along the upstream section increased by an average of 200,872 m2 per kilometer of the CAP canal over a 28 year period. Vegetation growth was compared to channel widths which share a quasi-linear relationship. Remote sensing analysis of Landsat TM images using an object-oriented approach shows that riparian vegetation cover gradually increased over 28 years. Field studies reveal that the increases in vegetation are attributed to the artificial rise in local base-level upstream created by the canal, which causes water to spill laterally onto the desert floor. Vegetation within the green-up zone varies considerably in comparison to pre-canal construction. Changes are most notable in vegetation community shifts and abundance. The wettest section of the green-up zone contains the greatest density of woody plant stems, the greatest vegetation volume, and a high percentage of herbaceous cover. Vegetation within wetter zones changed from a tree-shrub to a predominantly tree-herb assemblage, whereas desert shrubs located in zones with intermediate moisture have developed larger stems. Results from this study lend valuable insight to green-up processes associated with damming ephemeral streams, which can be applied to planning future canal or dam projects in drylands. Also, understanding the development of the green-up zones provide awareness to potentially avoiding flood damage to infrastructure that may be unknowingly constructed within the slow-growing green-up zone.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Ecological effects of stream flow permanence on butterfly and plant communities of Sonoran Desert streams

Description

Stream flow permanence plays a critical role in determining floristic composition, abundance, and diversity in the Sonoran Desert, but questions remain about the effects of stream flow permanence on butterfly

Stream flow permanence plays a critical role in determining floristic composition, abundance, and diversity in the Sonoran Desert, but questions remain about the effects of stream flow permanence on butterfly composition, abundance, and diversity. Understanding the effects of flow permanence on butterflies and relevant subsets of butterflies (such as butterflies whose host plants are present) and comparing them to these same effects on plants and relevant subsets of plants (such as butterfly nectar plants and larval host plants) provided insight into pollinator and riparian conservation and restoration.

I surveyed four Sonoran desert stream sites, and found significant relationships between flow permanence and plant and butterfly species richness and abundance, as well as strong relationships between plant and butterfly abundance and between plant and butterfly species richness. Most notably, my results pointed to hosted butterflies as a break-out category of butterflies which may more clearly delineate ecological relationships between butterfly and plant abundance and diversity along Sonoran Desert streams; this can inform conservation decisions. Managing for hosted (resident) butterflies will necessarily entail managing for the presence of surface water, nectar forage, varying levels of canopy cover, and plant, nectar plant, and host plant diversity since the relationships between hosted butterfly species richness and/or abundance and all of these variables were significant, both statistically and ecologically.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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How will hydrologic change alter riparian plant communities of the arid and semi-arid Southwest?: the problem approached from two perspectives

Description

Climate change has the potential to affect vegetation via changes in temperature and precipitation. In the semi-arid southwestern United States, heightened temperatures will likely lead to accelerated groundwater pumping to

Climate change has the potential to affect vegetation via changes in temperature and precipitation. In the semi-arid southwestern United States, heightened temperatures will likely lead to accelerated groundwater pumping to meet human needs, and altered storm patterns may lead to changes in flood regimes. All of these hydrologic changes have the potential to alter riparian vegetation. This research, consisting of two papers, examines relationships between hydrology and riparian vegetation along the Verde River in central Arizona, from applied and theoretical perspectives. One paper investigates how dominance of tree and shrub species and cover of certain functional groups change along hydrologic gradients. The other paper uses the Verde River flora along with that river's flood and moisture gradients to answer the question of whether functional groups can be defined universally. Drying of the Verde River would lead to a shift from cottonwood-willow streamside forest to more drought adapted desert willow or saltcedar, a decline in streamside marsh species, and decreased species richness. Effects drying will have on one dominant forest tree, velvet ash, is unclear. Increase in the frequency of large floods would potentially increase forest density and decrease average tree age and diameter. Correlations between functional traits of Verde River plants and hydrologic gradients are consistent with "leaf economics," or the axis of resource capture, use, and release, as the primary strategic trade-off for plants. This corresponds to the competitor-stress tolerator gradient in Grime's life history strategy theory. Plant height was also a strong indicator of hydrologic condition, though it is not clear from the literature if plant height is independent enough of leaf characteristics on a global scale to be considered a second axis. Though the ecohydrologic relationships are approached from different perspectives, the results of the two papers are consistent if interpreted together. The species that are currently dominant in the near-channel Verde River floodplain are tall, broad-leaf trees, and the species that are predicted to become more dominant in the case of the river drying are shorter trees or shrubs with smaller leaves. These results have implications for river and water management, as well as theoretical ecology.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011