Matching Items (8)

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Flora of the upper Verde River, Arizona

Description

The Upper Verde River of central Arizona flows through a landscape of complex geology at the meeting of seven biotic communities and three physiographic provinces. This has resulted in notably

The Upper Verde River of central Arizona flows through a landscape of complex geology at the meeting of seven biotic communities and three physiographic provinces. This has resulted in notably diverse flora and fauna and a hub of rare and endemic plant species. The river has sustained cultures since pre-history, however current regional water use is predicted to diminish streamflow over the next century. Prior to this project, no floristic inventory had been conducted along any section of the Verde. The purpose of this study was to develop a Flora of the Upper Verde River, with the goals of documenting rare and endemic species, the composition and abundance of wetland plants, and the factors shaping plant diversity in the region.

I made a total of 1856 collections and reviewed past collections to produce a checklist of 729 vascular plant taxa in 403 genera and 98 families. The most species-rich family is the Poaceae, followed by Asteraceae and Fabaceae. The flora includes 159 wetland taxa, 47 endemics, and 26 taxa of conservation concern, eight of which are Federally listed. Several new populations were found in these categories and of rarely-collected taxa including one state record, three county records and several range extensions. I report on the local status of several endemics, wetland taxa with limited distributions, and relict populations of a tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius) that were likely transported to the region and cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures. I categorize thirteen distinct plant communities, the most abundant being Pinyon/Juniper Woodland, Chihuahuan/Apacherian Scrub, and Riparian Deciduous Forest.

Four primary factors influence floristic diversity of the Upper Verde region: 1) a location at the junction of three physiographic and floristic provinces—represented by co-occurrence of species with affinities to the Sonoran, Intermountain and Madrean regions, 2) geologic diversity—as distinct groups of species are associated with particular geologic types, 3) topographic and habitat complexity—allowing species adapted to disparate environments to co-occur, and 4) human introductions—since over 15% of the flora is composed of introduced species from Eurasia and several taxa were introduced to the region and cultivated by pre-Columbian cultures.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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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.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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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.

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Date Created
  • 2012

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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.

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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.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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The Phoenix Four Rivers Flora, Maricopa County, Arizona

Description

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.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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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.

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Date Created
  • 2011

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Herpetofauna and riparian microhabitat of urban and wildland reaches along the Salt River, Arizona

Description

Worldwide, riverine floodplains are among the most endangered landscapes. In response to anthropogenic impacts, riverine restoration projects are considerably increasing. However, there is a paucity of information on how riparian

Worldwide, riverine floodplains are among the most endangered landscapes. In response to anthropogenic impacts, riverine restoration projects are considerably increasing. However, there is a paucity of information on how riparian rehabilitation activities impact non-avian wildlife communities. I evaluated herpetofauna abundance, species richness, diversity (i.e., Shannon and Simpson indices), species-specific responses, and riparian microhabitat characteristics along three reaches (i.e., wildland, urban rehabilitated, and urban disturbed) of the Salt River, Arizona. The surrounding uplands of the two urbanized reaches were dominated by the built environment (i.e., Phoenix metropolitan area). I predicted that greater diversity of microhabitat and lower urbanization would promote herpetofauna abundance, richness, and diversity. In 2010, at each reach, I performed herpetofauna visual surveys five times along eight transects (n=24) spanning the riparian zone. I quantified twenty one microhabitat characteristics such as ground substrate, vegetative cover, woody debris, tree stem density, and plant species richness along each transect. Herpetofauna species richness was the greatest along the wildland reach, and the lowest along the urban disturbed reach. The wildland reach had the greatest diversity indices, and diversity indices of the two urban reaches were similar. Abundance of herpetofauna was approximately six times lower along the urban disturbed reach compared to the two other reaches, which had similar abundances. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) reduced microhabitat variables to five factors, and significant differences among reaches were detected. Vegetation structure complexity, vegetation species richness, as well as densities of Prosopis (mesquite), Salix (willow), Populus (cottonwood), and animal burrows had a positive correlation with at least one of the three herpetofauna community parameter quantified (i.e., herpetofauna abundance, species richness, and diversity indices), and had a positive correlation with at least one herpetofauna species. Overall, rehabilitation activities positively influenced herpetofauna abundance and species richness, whereas urbanization negatively influenced herpetofauna diversity indices. Based on herpetofauna/microhabitat correlations established, I developed recommendations regarding microhabitat features that should be created in order to promote herpetofauna when rehabilitating degraded riparian systems. Recommendations are to plant vegetation of different growth habit, provide woody debris, plant Populus, Salix, and Prosopis of various ages and sizes, and to promote small mammal abundance.

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Date Created
  • 2011