Matching Items (19)

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Flora of Usery Mountain Regional Park and Pass Mountain region of Tonto National Forest, Arizona and distribution of Saguaro (Carnegniea gigantea) on Pass Mountain in southern Tonto National Forest

Description

This study was designed to produce a comprehensive flora of Usery Mountain Regional Park and Pass Mountain of the Tonto National Forest. A total of 168 vascular plant species representing

This study was designed to produce a comprehensive flora of Usery Mountain Regional Park and Pass Mountain of the Tonto National Forest. A total of 168 vascular plant species representing 46 families and 127 genera were collected or documented at this study area. Sixteen species were not native to the flora of Arizona and represent 9.5% of the flora. Nevertheless, the study area does not appear to be significantly damaged or degraded in spite of its historical and current land use. The location and types of invasive species recorded in this study will assist with implementing preventative measures to prevent further spreading of certain species. The complete list of all vascular species recorded in this study will provide a valuable tool for land management decisions and future restoration projects that may occur at this area or similar sites and invasive species control. The distribution of the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) population on Pass Mountain was documented through the measurement of saguaros by random sampling. ArcGIS was used to generate 50 random points for sampling the saguaro population. Analysis to determine saguaro habitat preferences based on the parameters of aspect, slope and elevation was conducted through ArcGIS. The saguaro population of Pass Mountain significantly favored the southern aspects with the highest concentration occurring in the southwest aspects at an average density of 42.66 saguaros per hectare. The large numbers of saguaros recorded in the younger size classes suggests a growing populations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Effects of saltcedar on population structure and habitat utilization of the common side-blotched lizard

Description

Non-native saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) has invaded many riparian communities and is the third most abundant tree in Southwestern riparian areas. I evaluated lizard populations and microhabitat selection during 2009 and

Non-native saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) has invaded many riparian communities and is the third most abundant tree in Southwestern riparian areas. I evaluated lizard populations and microhabitat selection during 2009 and 2010 along the Virgin River in Nevada and Arizona to determine the impact of saltcedar. Along the riparian corridor, I observed common side-blotched lizards (Uta stansburiana) within two vegetation types: monotypic non-native saltcedar stands or mixed stands of cottonwood (Populus fremontii), willow (Salix spp.), mesquite (Prosopis spp.) and saltcedar. I predicted that population parameters such as body condition, adult to hatchling ratio, abundance, and persistence would vary among vegetation types. Also, I predicted the presence of saltcedar influences how lizards utilize available habitat. Lizard population parameters were obtained from a mark-recapture study in which I captured 233 individual lizards. I examined habitat selection and habitat availability using visual encounter surveys (VES) for lizards and recorded 11 microhabitat variables where 16 lizards were found. I found no significant difference in population parameters between mixed and non-native saltcedar communities. However, population parameters were negatively correlated with canopy cover. I found that lizards selected habitat with low understory and canopy cover regardless of vegetation type. My results indicate that lizards utilize similar structural characteristics in both mixed and non-native vegetation. Understanding impacts of saltcedar on native fauna is important for managers who are tasked with control and management of this non-native species.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2011

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Indirect Effects of Omnivorous Crayfish on Semiarid Stream Macroinvertebrate Communities Mediated by Novel Riparian Vegetation

Description

Novel resource inputs represent an increasingly common phenomenon in ecological systems as global change alters environmental factors and species distributions. In semiarid riparian areas, hydric pioneer tree species are being

Novel resource inputs represent an increasingly common phenomenon in ecological systems as global change alters environmental factors and species distributions. In semiarid riparian areas, hydric pioneer tree species are being replaced by drought-tolerant species as water availability decreases. Additionally, introduced omnivorous crayfish, which feed upon primary producers, allochthonous detritus, and benthic invertebrates, can impact communities at multiple levels through both direct and indirect effects. In arid and semiarid systems of the American Southwest, crayfish may be especially important as detrital processors due to the lack of specialized detritivores. I tested the impact of virile crayfish (Orconectes virilis) on benthic invertebrates and detrital resources across a gradient of riparian vegetation drought-tolerance using field cages with leaf litter bags in the San Pedro River in Southeastern Arizona. Virile crayfish increased breakdown rate of drought-tolerant saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima), but did not impact breakdown of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), Gooding's willow (Salix goodingii), or seepwillow (Baccharis salicifolia). The density and composition of the invertebrate community colonizing leaf litter bags were both heavily influenced by litter species but not directly by crayfish presence. As drought-tolerant species become more abundant in riparian zones, their litter will become a larger component of the organic matter budget of desert streams. By increasing breakdown rates of saltcedar, crayfish shift the composition of leaf litter in streams, which in turn may affect the composition and biomass of colonizing invertebrate communities. More research is needed to determine the full extent to which these alterations change community composition over time.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Evaluation of the efficacy of DNA sequencing and microhistological analysis for determining diet composition in ungulates

Description

An understanding of diet habits is crucial in implementing proper management strategies for wildlife. Diet analysis, however, remains a challenge for ruminant species. Microhistological analysis, the method most often employed

An understanding of diet habits is crucial in implementing proper management strategies for wildlife. Diet analysis, however, remains a challenge for ruminant species. Microhistological analysis, the method most often employed in herbivore diet studies, is tedious and time consuming. In addition, it requires considerable training and an extensive reference plant collection. The development of DNA barcoding (species identification using a standardized DNA sequence) and the availability of recent DNA sequencing techniques offer new possibilities in diet analysis for ungulates. Using fecal material collected from controlled feeding trials on pygmy goats, (Capra hicus), novel DNA barcoding technology using the P6-loop of the chloroplast trnL (UAA) intron was compared with the traditional microhistological technique. At its current stage of technological development, this study demonstrated that DNA barcoding did not enhance the ability to detect plant species in herbivore diets. A higher mean species composition was reported with microhistological analysis (79%) as compared to DNA barcoding (50%). Microhistological analysis consistently reported a higher species presence by forage class. For affect positive species identification, microhistology estimated an average of 89% correct detection in control diets, while DNA barcoding estimated 50% correct detection of species. It was hypothesized that a number of factors, including variation in chloroplast content in feed species and the effect of rumen bacteria on degradation of DNA, influenced the ability to detect plant species in herbivore diets and concluded that while DNA barcoding opens up new possibilities in the study of plant-herbivore interactions, further studies are needed to standardize techniques and for DNA bar-coding in this context.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

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Soil moisture availability and energetic controls on belowground network complexity and function in arid ecosystems

Description

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However,

The explicit role of soil organisms in shaping soil health, rates of pedogenesis, and resistance to erosion has only just recently begun to be explored in the last century. However, much of the research regarding soil biota and soil processes is centered on maintaining soil fertility (e.g., plant nutrient availability) and soil structure in mesic- and agro- ecosystems. Despite the empirical and theoretical strides made in soil ecology over the last few decades, questions regarding ecosystem function and soil processes remain, especially for arid areas. Arid areas have unique ecosystem biogeochemistry, decomposition processes, and soil microbial responses to moisture inputs that deviate from predictions derived using data generated in more mesic systems. For example, current paradigm predicts that soil microbes will respond positively to increasing moisture inputs in a water-limited environment, yet data collected in arid regions are not congruent with this hypothesis. The influence of abiotic factors on litter decomposition rates (e.g., photodegradation), litter quality and availability, soil moisture pulse size, and resulting feedbacks on detrital food web structure must be explicitly considered for advancing our understanding of arid land ecology. However, empirical data coupling arid belowground food webs and ecosystem processes are lacking. My dissertation explores the resource controls (soil organic matter and soil moisture) on food web network structure, size, and presence/absence of expected belowground trophic groups across a variety of sites in Arizona.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Odocoileus hemionus (hemionus) on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon: a study of wildlife nutrition, metabolic response and interaction of the herd with the winter habitat on the north Kaibab Plateau

Description

A mule deer herd exists on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, located on the North Kaibab Plateau. Historical references to this indigenous mule deer herd presented reports of

A mule deer herd exists on the northern rim of the Grand Canyon, located on the North Kaibab Plateau. Historical references to this indigenous mule deer herd presented reports of periodic population irruption and collapse. Partially funded by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Arizona Deer Association, examination of herd nutritional and metabolic status from the Fall 2005 - Spring 2008 was completed at the request of AzGFD and ADA. Habitat analysis included forage micro-histological, protein, and caloric content plus whole blood and plasma assays gauging herd metabolic response. Modelling was completed using best management practices wildlife energy demand calculations and principal component analysis. Forage quality analysis and modelling suggest a sufficient amount of nitrogen (N) available (DPI) to the deer for protein synthesis. Energy analysis (MEI) of forage suggest caloric deficiencies are widely prevalent on the north Kaibab plateau. Principal component analysis integrates forage and metabolic results providing a linear regression model describing the dynamics of forage utilization, energy availability, and forage nitrogen supply with metabolic demand and response of the mule deer herd. Most of the plasma and blood metabolic indicators suggest baseline values for the North Kaibab mule deer. Albumin values are in agreement with albumin values for mule deer in the Southwest. I suggest that the agreed values become a standard for mule deer in the Southwestern U.S. As excess dietary N is converted to a caloric resource, a continual state of under-nutrition exists for the deer upon entering the N. Kaibab winter range. The population is exceeding the nutritional resource plane that the winter habitat provides. Management recommendations include implementation of multiple small-scale habitat rehabilitation efforts over time, including invasive juniper (Juniperous osteosperma) and piñon (Pinus edulis) management, prescribed burning to control big sage (Artemesia tridentata) populations, and reseeding treated areas with a seed mix of native shrubs, grasses and forbs. I recommended that the population size of the North Kaibab deer herd is maintained at the current size with natural selection controlling growth, or the population be artificially reduced through increased hunting opportunities.

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Date Created
  • 2014

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

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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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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Herpetofauna community responses to saltcedar (Tamarix spp.) biological control and riparian restoration along a Mojave Desert stream, U.S.A

Description

In riparian ecosystems, reptiles and amphibians are good indicators of environmental conditions. Herpetofauna have been linked to specific microhabitat characteristics, microclimates, and water resources in riparian forests. My objective was

In riparian ecosystems, reptiles and amphibians are good indicators of environmental conditions. Herpetofauna have been linked to specific microhabitat characteristics, microclimates, and water resources in riparian forests. My objective was to relate herpetofauna abundance to changes in riparian habitat along the Virgin River caused by the Tamarix biological control agent, Diorhabda carinulata, and riparian restoration.

During 2013 and 2014, vegetation and herpetofauna were monitored at 21 riparian locations along the Virgin River via trapping and visual encounter surveys. Study sites were divided into four stand types based on density and percent cover of dominant trees (Tamarix, Prosopis, Populus, and Salix) and presence of restoration activities: Tam, Tam-Pros, Tam-Pop/Sal, and Restored Tam-Pop/Sal. Restoration activities consisted of mechanical removal of non-native trees, transplanting native trees, and introduction of water flow. All sites were affected by biological control. I predicted that herpetofauna abundance would vary between stand types and that herpetofauna abundance would be greatest in Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites due to increased habitat openness and variation following restoration efforts.

Results from trapping indicated that Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites had three times more total lizard and eight times more Sceloporus uniformis captures than other stand types. Anaxyrus woodhousii abundance was greatest in Tam-Pop/Sal and Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites. Visual encounter surveys indicated that herpetofauna abundance was greatest in the Restored Tam-Pop/Sal site compared to the adjacent Unrestored Tam-Pop/Sal site. Habitat variables were reduced to six components using a principle component analysis and significant differences were detected among stand types. Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites were most similar to Tam-Pop/Sal sites. S. uniformis were positively associated with large woody debris and high densities of Populus, Salix, and large diameter Prosopis.

Restored Tam-Pop/Sal sites likely supported higher abundances of herpetofauna, as these areas exhibited greater habitat heterogeneity. Restoration activities created a mosaic habitat by reducing canopy cover and increasing native tree density and surface water. Natural resource managers should consider implementing additional restoration efforts following biological control when attempting to restore riparian areas dominated by Tamarix and other non-native trees.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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Diet, nutrients, and free water requirements of pronghorn antelope on Perry Mesa, Arizona

Description

For the past 30 years wildlife biologists have debated the need of pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) to drink freestanding water (free water). Some have suggested that pronghorn may feed at

For the past 30 years wildlife biologists have debated the need of pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) to drink freestanding water (free water). Some have suggested that pronghorn may feed at night to increase preformed water (plant moisture) intake, thus decreasing their dependence on free water. Pronghorn diet composition and nutrient intake is integral to understanding water available to pronghorn through preformed and metabolic sources. The dual purpose of this study was to determine plant composition of pronghorn diets, and to examine whether night feeding provides a water allocation advantage by testing for differences between day and night and modeling free water requirements during biologically critical seasons and years of different precipitation. I determined species composition, selected nutrients, and moisture content of American pronghorn diets on Perry Mesa, Arizona in March, May, June and August of 2008 and 2009. I used microhistological analysis of fecal samples to determine percent plant composition of pronghorn diets. I used forage samples to evaluate the nutrient composition of those diets for moisture, crude protein and structural carbohydrates, and to calculate metabolic water. I used calculations proposed by Fox et al. (2000) to model free water requirements and modified the equations to reflect increased requirements for lactation. Diet analysis revealed that pronghorn used between 67% and 99% forbs and suggested fair range conditions. Preformed water was not significantly different between night and day. Night feeding appeared to be of marginal advantage, providing an average potential 9% preformed water increase in 2008, and 3% in 2009. The model indicated that neither male nor female pronghorn could meet their water requirements from preformed and metabolic water during any time period, season or year. The average free water requirements for females ranged from 0.67 L/animal/day (SE 0.06) in March, 2008 to 3.12 L/animal/day (SE 0.02) in June, 2009. The model showed that American pronghorn on Perry Mesa require access to free water during biological stress periods.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012