Matching Items (5)

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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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The effect of plant neighbors on a common desert shrub's physiology and evapotranspiration

Description

Hydrological models in arid and semi-arid ecosystems can be subject to high uncertainties. Spatial variability in soil moisture and evapotranspiration, key components of the water cycle, can contribute to model

Hydrological models in arid and semi-arid ecosystems can be subject to high uncertainties. Spatial variability in soil moisture and evapotranspiration, key components of the water cycle, can contribute to model uncertainty. In particular, an understudied source of spatial variation is the effect of plant-plant interactions on water fluxes. At patch scales (plant and associated soil), plant neighbors can either negatively or positively affect soil water availability via competition or hydraulic redistribution, respectively. The aboveground microclimate can also be altered via canopy shading effects by neighbors. Across longer timescales (years), plants may adjust their physiological (water-use) traits in response to the neighbor-altered microclimate, which subsequently affects transpiration rates. The influence of physiological adjustments and neighbor-altered microclimate on water fluxes was assessed around Larrea tridentata in the Sonoran Desert. Field measurements of Larrea’s stomatal behavior and vertical root distributions were used to examine the effects of neighbors on Larrea’s physiological controls on transpiration. A modeling based approach was implemented to explore the sensitivity of evapotranspiration and soil moisture to neighbor effects. Neighbors significantly altered both above- and belowground physiological controls on evapotranspiration. Compared to Larrea growing alone, neighbors increased Larrea’s annual transpiration by up to 75% and 30% at the patch and stand scales, respectively. Estimates of annual transpiration were highly sensitive to the presence/absence of competition for water, and on seasonal timescales, physiological adjustments significantly influenced transpiration estimates. Plant-plant interactions can be a significant source of spatial variation in ecohydrological models, and both physiological adjustments to neighbors and neighbor effects on microclimate affect small scale (patch to ecosystem) water fluxes.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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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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Denitrification in accidental urban wetlands: exploring the roles of water flows and plant patches

Description

Cities can be sources of nitrate to downstream ecosystems resulting in eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia that can have negative impacts on economies and human health. One potential solution

Cities can be sources of nitrate to downstream ecosystems resulting in eutrophication, harmful algal blooms, and hypoxia that can have negative impacts on economies and human health. One potential solution to this problem is to increase nitrate removal in cities by providing locations where denitrification¬— a microbial process in which nitrate is reduced to N2 gas permanently removing nitrate from systems— can occur. Accidental urban wetlands– wetlands that results from human activities, but are not designed or managed for any specific outcome¬– are one such feature in the urban landscape that could help mitigate nitrate pollution through denitrification.

The overarching question of this dissertation is: how do hydrology, soil conditions, and plant patches affect patterns of denitrification in accidental urban wetlands? To answer this question, I took a three-pronged approach using a combination of field and greenhouse studies. First, I examined drivers of broad patterns of denitrification in accidental urban wetlands. Second, I used a field study to test if plant traits influence denitrification indirectly by modifying soil resources. Finally, I examined how species richness and interactions between species influence nitrate retention and patterns of denitrification using both a field study and greenhouse experiment.

Hydroperiod of accidental urban wetlands mediated patterns of denitrification in response to monsoon floods and plant patches. Specifically, ephemeral wetlands had patterns of denitrification that were largely unexplained by monsoon floods or plant patches, which are common drivers of patterns of denitrification in non-urban wetlands. Several plant traits including belowground biomass, above- and belowground tissue chemistry and rooting depth influenced denitrification indirectly by changing soil organic matter or soil nitrate. However, several other plant traits also had significant direct relationships with denitrification, (i.e. not through the hypothesized indirect relationships through soil organic matter or soil nitrate). This means these plant traits were affecting another aspect of soil conditions not included in the analysis, highlighting the need to improve our understanding of how plant traits influence denitrification. Finally, increasing species richness did not increase nitrate retention or denitrification, but rather individual species had the greatest effects on nitrate retention and denitrification.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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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.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015