Matching Items (5)

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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 rehabilitation activities impact non-avian wildlife communities. I evaluated herpetofauna abundance,

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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Created

Date Created
2011

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Bursera microphylla in South Mountain Municipal Park: evaluating its habitat characteristics

Description

ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla

ABSTRACT The elephant tree, Bursera microphylla, is at the northern limit of its range in central Arizona. This species is sensitive to frost damage thus limiting its occurrence in more northern areas of the southwest. Marginal populations of B. microphylla are found in mountain ranges of Central Arizona and are known to occur in the rugged mountain range system of the South Mountain Municipal Park (SMMP). Little is known of the distribution of this species within the park and details relevant to the health of both individual plants and the population such as diameter and number of trunks, height, and presence of damage have not been examined. This study was designed, in part, to test the hypothesis that favorable microhabitats at SMMP are created by particular combinations of abiotic features including aspect, slope, elevation and solar radiation. Data on abiotic factors, as well as specific individual plant locations and characteristics were obtained for 100 individuals. Temperature data was collected in vertical transects at different altitudinal levels. Some of these data were used in spatial analyses to generate a habitat suitability model using GIS software. Furthermore, collected data was analyzed using Matlab© software to identify potential trends in the variation of morphological traits. In addition, for comparative purposes similar information at one hundred computer-generated randomly chosen points throughout SMMP was obtained. The GIS spatial analyses indicated that aspect, slope, elevation, and relative solar radiance are strongly associated as major climatic components of the microhabitat of B. microphylla. Temperature data demonstrated that there are significant differences in ambient temperature among different altitudinal gradients with middle elevations being more favorable. Furthermore, analyses performed using Matlab© to explore trends of elevation as a factor indicated that multiple trunk plants are more commonly found at higher elevations than single trunk plants, there is a positive correlation of trunk diameter with elevation, and that canopy volume has a negative correlation with respect to elevation. It was concluded that microhabitats where B. microphylla occurs at the northern limit of its range require a particular combination of abiotic features that can be easily altered by climatic changes.

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Created

Date Created
2011

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Effects of off-road vehicles on rodents in the Sonoran Desert

Description

Human recreation on rangelands may negatively impact wildlife populations. Among those activities, off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation carries the potential for broad ecological consequences. A study was undertaken to assess the impacts of ORV on rodents in Arizona Uplands Sonoran Desert.

Human recreation on rangelands may negatively impact wildlife populations. Among those activities, off-road vehicle (ORV) recreation carries the potential for broad ecological consequences. A study was undertaken to assess the impacts of ORV on rodents in Arizona Uplands Sonoran Desert. Between the months of February and September 2010, rodents were trapped at 6 ORV and 6 non-ORV sites in Tonto National Forest, AZ. I hypothesized that rodent abundance and species richness are negatively affected by ORV use. Rodent abundances were estimated using capture-mark-recapture methodology. Species richness was not correlated with ORV use. Although abundance of Peromyscus eremicus and Neotoma albigula declined as ORV use increased, abundance of Dipodomys merriami increased. Abundance of Chaetodipus baileyi was not correlated with ORV use. Other factors measured were percent ground cover, percent shrub cover, and species-specific shrub cover percentages. Total shrub cover, Opuntia spp., and Parkinsonia microphylla each decreased as ORV use increased. Results suggest that ORV use negatively affects rodent habitats in Arizona Uplands Sonoran Desert, leading to declining abundance in some species. Management strategies should mitigate ORV related habitat destruction to protect vulnerable populations.

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Created

Date Created
2012

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A comparison of fire severity effects on post fire vegetation recovery nine years following the Rodeo-Chediski fire: a long term monitoring study

Description

Two nearly homogenous 60 acre watersheds near Heber, Arizona, within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, were burned at moderate and high severities during the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski wildfire. Each watershed had 30 permanent plots located on it from earlier studies. In 2011,

Two nearly homogenous 60 acre watersheds near Heber, Arizona, within the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, were burned at moderate and high severities during the 2002 Rodeo-Chediski wildfire. Each watershed had 30 permanent plots located on it from earlier studies. In 2011, nearly 10 years following the fire, the plots were re-measured to determine how fire severity affects the long term vegetative recovery of this ecosystem; specifically herbaceous production and tree regeneration and density. Canopy cover, litter depth, herbaceous weight, herbaceous cover and shrub cover are vital indicators of herbaceous production, and were found to be significantly different between the sites. Canopy cover and litter depth were found to be significantly higher on the moderate site while herbaceous weight, herbaceous cover and shrub cover were found to be significantly higher on the high site. Tree densities of the three present tree species, ponderosa pine, alligator juniper, and gambel oak, were measured and divided into five size classes to distinguish the diversity of the communities. The mean densities for each species and size class were analyzed to determine if there were any statistically significant differences between the sites. Ponderosa pine saplings (regeneration) were found to have no significant differences between the sites. Juniper and oak saplings were found to be significantly higher on the high site. The remaining four ponderosa pine size classes were found to be significantly higher on the moderate site while the remaining four size classes for juniper and oak were found to have no statistical differences between the sites. Further analysis of the tree proportions revealed that the ponderosa pine species was significantly higher on the moderate site while juniper and oak were significantly higher on the high site. Species specific proportion analysis showed that the ponderosa pine size classes were significantly different across the sites while the juniper and oak size classes showed no significant differences between the sites. Within the ponderosa pine size classes, saplings were found to be significantly higher on the high site while the remaining four classes were significantly higher on the moderate site.

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Created

Date Created
2012

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Long term effects of cattle grazing on age distribution in a population of Carnegiea gigantea in Saguaro National Park

Description

Livestock-grazing, in particular cattle grazing, is a common use of public and private lands in western North America. As a result, the effects of grazing on both plants and animals are widely studied. Few studies, however, look directly at the

Livestock-grazing, in particular cattle grazing, is a common use of public and private lands in western North America. As a result, the effects of grazing on both plants and animals are widely studied. Few studies, however, look directly at the long-term effects that cattle grazing may have on a particular species. The goal of this experiment was to continue research begun in 1988, to determine if the effects of cattle grazing are still seen in the age structure of two populations of saguaros (Carnegiea gigantea [Engelm.] Britton & Rose) at Saguaro National Park - Rincon Mountain District (SNP-RMD). The null hypothesis stated that enough time has elapsed since the cessation of grazing, and there is no difference in the age distribution of the saguaros of the two populations. The study area was comprised of a former fence line where grazing ceased on the western side of the fence in 1958 and the eastern side in 1978. Belt transects were laid on each side of the fence line and height was measured for each saguaro encountered in a transect. Approximate age of the individual was then calculated using an age-height correlation for SNP-RMD. Individuals were then placed into age classes of 10 year increments and a Log-Likelihood test was performed. The resulting calculated P value of 0.12 meant the null hypothesis was not rejected and there was no statistical difference between the age structure of the two populations. After 34 and 54 years rest from grazing, the negative effects of cattle grazing on the retention and recruitment of saguaro seedlings have ended, and replenishment of the populations is now dependent upon factors such as temperature and precipitation. Other factors such as climate change, increasing fire frequency, encroachment by invasive species, and poaching are sources of concern and increased mortality for these and other saguaros.

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Created

Date Created
2013