In regulated rivers of the southwest, reduced flooding and the invasion of tamarisk contributes to accumulation of greater fuel loads and increased riparian fire frequency. As a result, some desert riparian areas, historically considered barriers to wildfire, have been converted into pathways for wildfire spread. Fire-smart management strategies are needed to protect sensitive riparian species and reduce fire risk from increased fire frequency due to interactions of climate change, tamarisk invasion, and tamarisk beetle activity. Fire niche simulations will be used to project impacts of fire frequency and climate change, which can be used to highlight areas of the Desert LCC where Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, and northern Mexican gartersnake may be the most and least susceptible to habitat loss from changes in fire and climate regimes. Broad scale climatic niche models of northern and subtropical tamarisk beetles will be developed to assess future risk of invasion of tamarisk beetles into new riparian areas of the Desert LCC. Decision support tools will be developed for planning cottonwood/willow riparian woodland restoration which can mitigate against increased fire susceptibility, and restoration strategies will be designed for the selected species of concern.
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