Matching Items (13)

128814-Thumbnail Image.png

Multitaxonomic Diversity Patterns along a Desert Riparian–Upland Gradient

Description

Riparian areas are noted for their high biodiversity, but this has rarely been tested across a wide range of taxonomic groups. We set out to describe species richness, species abundance,

Riparian areas are noted for their high biodiversity, but this has rarely been tested across a wide range of taxonomic groups. We set out to describe species richness, species abundance, and community similarity patterns for 11 taxonomic groups (forbs & grasses, shrubs, trees, solpugids, spiders, scarab beetles, butterflies, lizards, birds, rodents, and mammalian carnivores) individually and for all groups combined along a riparian–upland gradient in semiarid southeastern Arizona, USA. Additionally, we assessed whether biological characteristics could explain variation in diversity along the gradient using five traits (trophic level, body size, life span, thermoregulatory mechanism, and taxonomic affiliation). At the level of individual groups diversity patterns varied along the gradient, with some having greater richness and/or abundance in riparian zones whereas others were more diverse and/or abundant in upland zones. Across all taxa combined, riparian zones contained significantly more species than the uplands. Community similarity between riparian and upland zones was low, and beta diversity was significantly greater than expected for most taxonomic groups, though biological traits explained little variance in diversity along the gradient. These results indicate heterogeneity amongst taxa in how they respond to the factors that structure ecological communities in riparian landscapes. Nevertheless, across taxonomic groups the overall pattern is one of greater species richness and abundance in riparian zones, coupled with a distinct suite of species.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012-01-17

137211-Thumbnail Image.png

Secondary Production of Terrestrial Macroinvertebrates Along a Gradient of Streamflow Permanence

Description

Ephemeral and intermittent streams are valuable sources of surface water support in the arid ecosystems of the Southwestern United States. These streams account for over 80% of the streams in

Ephemeral and intermittent streams are valuable sources of surface water support in the arid ecosystems of the Southwestern United States. These streams account for over 80% of the streams in the American Southwest and their importance has been indicated in many studies. Ephemeral and intermittent streams support a wide range of plant and animal species in both continuous and episodic fashions. This study aimed to gain a better understanding of the relationship between streamflow permanence and patterns of biomass and secondary production of the riparian fauna these ecosystems support. This was accomplished through a yearlong survey in the Huachuca Mountains of Southeastern, Arizona where macroinvertebrates were collected at various sites along a gradient of streamflow permanence before, during, and after the three month monsoon season that supplies most of the annual rainfall in this region. The results of my surveys indicate that 1) Sites characterized by low streamflow permanence were more responsive to changes in precipitation than sites characterized by relatively high streamflow permanence 2) In ephemeral streams, there is a significant peak in terrestrial macroinvertebrate production and biomass both during and after the monsoon season 3) streamflow permanence may convey consistent but not exceptional secondary production whereas seasonality in rainfall may convey exceptional but episodic secondary production—more so in sites where streamflow is not consistent.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2014-05

Understanding introduced megafauna in the Anthropocene: wild burros as ecosystem engineers in the Sonoran Desert

Description

Megafauna species worldwide have undergone dramatic declines since the end of the Pleistocene, twelve thousand years ago. In response, there have been numerous calls to increase conservation attention to these

Megafauna species worldwide have undergone dramatic declines since the end of the Pleistocene, twelve thousand years ago. In response, there have been numerous calls to increase conservation attention to these ecologically important species. However, introduced megafauna continue to be treated as pests. This thesis evaluates the extent of this conservation paradox in relation to changing megafauna diversity from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene and finds that introductions have provided refuge for a substantial number threatened and endangered megafaunal species and has restored generic diversity levels per continent to levels closer to the Pleistocene than the Holocene. Furthermore, this thesis describes a previously unstudied behavior of wild burros (Equus asinus), an introduced megafauna whose pre-domestic ancestors are Critically Endangered. Wild burros dig wells to access groundwater and in doing so substantially increase water availability on several scales, create sites that are visited by numerous species and are comparable to natural water sources in terms of species richness, and provide germination nurseries for important riparian pioneer plant species. My results suggest that relaxing concepts of nativity in an age of extinction will provide new understandings of ecological function and can help focus attention on broader conservation goals.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2017

155201-Thumbnail Image.png

A Seed Bank Study of Southwestern Riparian Areas: Temperature Effects and Diversity

Description

Throughout the Southwest, complex geology and physiography concomitant with climatic variability contribute to diverse stream hydrogeomorphologies. Many riparian plant species store their seeds in soil seed banks, and germinate

Throughout the Southwest, complex geology and physiography concomitant with climatic variability contribute to diverse stream hydrogeomorphologies. Many riparian plant species store their seeds in soil seed banks, and germinate in response to moisture pulses, but the climatic controls of this response are poorly understood. To better understand the ecological implications of a changing climate on riparian plant communities, I investigated seed bank responses to seasonal temperature patterns and to stream hydrogeomorphic type. I asked the following questions: Are there distinct suites of warm and cool temperature germinating species associated with Southwestern streams; how do they differ between riparian and terrestrial zones, and between ephemeral and perennial streams? How does alpha diversity of the soil seed bank differ between streams with ephemeral, intermittent, and perennial flow, and between montane and basin streams? Do streams with greater elevational change have higher riparian zone seed bank beta-diversity? Does nestedness or turnover contribute more to within stream beta-diversity?

I collected soil samples from the riparian and terrestrial zones of 21 sites, placing them in growth chambers at one of two temperature regimes, and monitoring emergence of seedlings for 12 weeks. Results showed an approximately equal number of warm and cool specialists in both riparian and terrestrials zones; generalists also were abundant, particularly in the riparian zone. The number of temperature specialists and generalists in the riparian zones did not differ significantly between perennial headwater and ephemeral stream types. In montane streams, alpha diversity of the soil seed bank was highest for ephemeral reaches; in basin streams the intermittent and perennial reaches had higher diversity. Spatial turnover was primarily responsible for within stream beta-diversity—reaches had different species assemblages. The large portion of temperature specialists found in riparian seed banks indicates that even with available moisture riparian zone plant community composition will likely be impacted by changing temperatures. However, the presence of so many temperature generalists in the riparian zones suggests that some component of the seed bank is adapted to variable conditions and might offer resilience in a changing climate. Study results confirm the importance of conserving multiple hydrogeomorphic reach types because they support unique species assemblages.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

154100-Thumbnail Image.png

Amsonia kearneyana (Apocynaceae) Kearney's Blue Star: new insights to inform recovery

Description

Amsonia kearneyana is an endangered herbaceous plant endemic to a small area of the Baboquivari Mountains in southern Arizona. It exists in two distinct habitat types: 1) along the banks

Amsonia kearneyana is an endangered herbaceous plant endemic to a small area of the Baboquivari Mountains in southern Arizona. It exists in two distinct habitat types: 1) along the banks of a lower elevation ephemeral stream in a xeroriparian community, and 2) a higher elevation Madrean oak woodland on steep mountain slopes. Half of the largest known montane population (Upper Brown Canyon) was burned in a large fire in 2009 raising questions of the species capacity to recover after fire. This research sought to understand how the effects of fire will impact A. kearneyana's ability to recruit and survive in the burned versus unburned areas and in the montane versus xeroriparian habitat.

I compared population size, abiotic habitat characteristics, leaf traits, plant size, and reproductive output for plants in each habitat area for three years. Plants in the more shaded unburned montane area, the most populated population, presented with the most clonal establishment but produced the least amount of seeds per plant. The unshaded burned area produced more seeds per plant than in the unburned area. Lower Brown Canyon, the xeroriparian area, had the fewest plants, but produced the most seeds per plant while experiencing higher soil temperature, soil moisture, photosynthetically active radiation, and canopy cover than the montane plants. This could indicate conditions in Lower Brown Canyon are more favorable for seed production.

Despite ample seed production, recruitment is rare in wild plants. This study establishes germination requirements testing soil type, seed burial depth, temperature regimes, and shade treatments. Trials indicate that A. kearneyana can germinate and grow in varied light levels, and that soil type and seed burial depth are better predictors of growth than the degree of shade.

Finally, this study examined the law, regulation, policy, and physiological risks and benefits of a new management strategy and suggests that "conservation by dissemination" is appropriate for A. kearneyana. Conservation by dissemination is the idea that a protected plant species can be conserved by allowing and promoting the propagation and sale of plants in the commercial market with contingent collection of data on the fate of the sold individuals.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2015

151422-Thumbnail Image.png

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

154740-Thumbnail Image.png

Screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens) die-off: population status at restored and unrestored sites in the lower Colorado River Watershed

Description

Die-off of screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens), a species native to the American Southwest, has been documented regionally within the last decade. Historical causes for episodic mortality of the more widely

Die-off of screwbean mesquite (Prosopis pubescens), a species native to the American Southwest, has been documented regionally within the last decade. Historical causes for episodic mortality of the more widely distributed velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina) and honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) include water table declines and flood scour. Causes of the recent die-offs of P. pubescens have received little study. Numerous riparian restoration projects have been implemented regionally that include screwbean mesquite. Restoration propagules from foreign sources can introduce diseases, and low genetic diversity plantings may allow for disease irruptions. I asked: 1) Are die-offs associated with a particular age class, 2) Is die-off suggestive of a pathogen or related to specific environmental stressors, 3) Are mortality influences and outcomes the same between restoration and local populations, 4) Are particular land uses and management associated with die-off, and 5) Are populations rebounding or keeping pace with mortality?

I documented the screwbean mesquite population status at rivers and wetlands in Arizona with varying levels of restoration. I used logistic regression and Pearson correlation analysis to explore mortality response to site factors and disease related variables. I compared mortality response and disease severity between local and restoration populations.

Biotic damage surfaced as the most important factor in statistical analyses, suggesting that mortality was caused by a pathogen. Mortality was greatest for young size classes (3 to 14 cm), and biotic damage was higher for individuals at infrequently flooded areas. Strong differences were not found between local and restoration populations – however restoration populations were less stressed and had lower biotic damage. Novel urban and restored sites may provide refuge as site conditions at other locations deteriorate. A culmination of past water diversion, development and land use may be surfacing, rendering riparian species vulnerable to diseases and triggering such events as region-wide die-off.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

152681-Thumbnail Image.png

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

150826-Thumbnail Image.png

Is the southwest willow flycatcher at risk of quasi-extinction?: a critical evaluation of recovery units for a conservation icon

Description

The southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) is listed as an endangered species throughout its range in the southwestern United States. Little is known about its sub-population spatial structure and

The southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) is listed as an endangered species throughout its range in the southwestern United States. Little is known about its sub-population spatial structure and how this impacts its population viability. In conjunction with being listed as endangered, a recovery plan was produced by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, with recovery units (sub-populations) roughly based on major river drainages. In the interest of examining this configuration of sub-populations and their impact on the measured population viability, I applied a multivariate auto-regressive state-space model to a spatially extensive time series of abundance data for the southwestern willow flycatcher over the period spanning 1995-2010 estimating critical growth parameters, correlation in environmental stochasticity or "synchronicity" between sub-populations (recovery units) and extinction risk of the sub-populations and the whole. The model estimates two parameters, the mean and variance of annual growth rate. Of the models I tested, I found the strongest support for a population model in which three of the recovery units were grouped (the Lower Colorado, Gila Basin, and Rio Grande recovery units) while keeping all others separate. This configuration has 6.6 times more support for the observed data than a configuration assigning each recovery unit to a separate sub-population, which is how they are circumscribed in the recovery plan. Given the best model, the mean growth rate is -0.0234 (CI95 -0.0939, 0.0412) with a variance of 0.0597 (CI95 0.0115, 0.1134). This growth rate is not significantly different from zero and this is reflected in the low potential for quasi-extinction. The cumulative probability of the population experiencing at least an 80% decline from current levels within 15 years for some sub-populations were much higher (range: 0.129-0.396 for an 80% decline). These results suggest that the rangewide population has a low risk of extinction in the next 15 years and that the formal recovery units specified by the original recovery plan do not correspond to proper sub-population units as defined by population synchrony.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2012

156911-Thumbnail Image.png

Fire and Reseeding Effects on Arizona Upland Plant Community Composition and a Preliminary Floristic Inventory of Cave Creek Regional Park

Description

Baseline community composition data provides a snapshot in time that allows changes in composition to be monitored more effectively and can inform best practices. This study examines Arizona Upland plant

Baseline community composition data provides a snapshot in time that allows changes in composition to be monitored more effectively and can inform best practices. This study examines Arizona Upland plant community composition of the Sonoran Desert through three different lenses: floristic inventory, and fire and reseeding effects.

A floristic inventory was conducted at Cave Creek Regional Park (CCRP), Maricopa County, AZ. One hundred fifty-four taxa were documented within Park boundaries, including 148 species and six infraspecific taxa in 43 families. Asteraceae, Boraginaceae, and Fabaceae accounted for 40% of documented species and annuals accounted for 56% of documented diversity.

Fire effects were studied at three locations within McDowell Sonoran Preserve (MSP), Scottsdale, AZ. These fires occurred throughout the 1990s and recovered naturally. Fire and reseeding effects were studied at the site of a 2005 fire within CCRP that was reseeded immediately following the fire.

Two questions underlie the study regarding fire and reseeding effects: 1) How did fire and reseeding affect the cover and diversity of the plant communities? 2) Is there a difference in distribution of cover between treatments for individual species or growth habits? To address these questions, I compared burned and adjacent unburned treatments at each site, with an additional reseeded treatment added at CCRP.

MSP sites revealed overall diversity and cover was similar between treatments, but succulent cover was significantly reduced, and subshrub cover was significantly greater in the burn treatment. Seventeen species showed significant difference in distribution of cover between treatments.

The CCRP reseeded site revealed 11 of 28 species used in the seed mix persist 12 years post-fire. The reseeded treatment showed greater overall diversity than burned and unburned treatments. Succulent and shrub cover were significantly reduced by fire while subshrub cover was significantly greater in the reseeded treatment. Sixteen species showed significant difference in distribution of cover between treatments.

Fire appears to impact plant community composition across Arizona Upland sites. Choosing species to include in seed mixes for post-fire reseeding, based on knowledge of pre-fire species composition and individual species’ fire responses, may be a useful tool to promote post-fire plant community recovery.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2018