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Discovery of distinct mid-elevational bands of blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima Torr.) shrublands on desert mountain slopes in the Mojave Desert caused an investigation of the relationships between environmental factors and Coleogyne distribution. Environmental factors were quantitatively examined to determine which were significant predictors of Coleogyne density at upper-elevational limits (ecotones) in the Spring Mountains of southern Nevada. Path analysis revealed significant, direct causal effects of air temperature, soil moisture, soil depth, and percent litter cover on the distribution of Coleogyne. Specifically, air temperature was a significant positive predictor, while soil moisture, soil depth, and percent...
An increase in quarrying, open-cast mining and road traffic suggest that dust deposition onto vegetation may be increasing. This review describes the physical and chemical characters of a range of dust types. The effects of dust on crops, grasslands, heathlands, trees and woodlands, arctic bryophyte and lichen communities are identified. Dust may affect photosynthesis, respiration, transpiration and allow the penetration of phytotoxic gaseous pollutants. Visible injury symptoms may occur and generally there is decreased productivity. Most of the plant communities are affected by dust deposition so that community structure is altered. Epiphytic lichen and Sphagnum dominated communities are the most sensitive of those...
Cheatgrass brome, also known as "downy chess", "downy brome", "broncograss", "Mormon oats" and "Junegrass", is an annual grass that has become widely established on western ranges since its introduction from Europe. It presents complex problems which for years have complicated the management of the ranges it inhabits. In 1959 a cooperative research program on the management of cheatgrass ranges was started in southern Idaho by the Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station and the Bureau of Land Management. The beginning of these studies was necessarily preceded by a careful review and analysis of the literature on cheatgrass. This paper reviews that literature about this important western range plant. The...
Dissolved salts (salinity) adversely affect numerous urban and agriculatural users of Colorado River water in California and Arizona. Congress in 1974 authorized a major salinity control program. Studies of general economic benefits from salinity abatement and the cost per unit of salinity reduction expected from specific proposed projects have been developed by the responsible federal agencies, but no project-by-project evaluation has been published. We find a conceptual basis for a substantial downward revision of prospective economic benefits of salinity abatement. Revised benefits are compared with estimated costs, and only for five of the nineteen projects do economic benefits appear to exceed costs. Published...
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Social organization of the Gunnison's prairie dog, Cynomys gunnisoni, was studied in two populations in south-central Colorado. Gunnison's prairie dogs live in complex, interactive societies fitting current definitions of highly social ground squirrels. Members of harems (‘coteries’) cooperatively use and defend a common territory. Spatial overlap is extensive between the adult male(s) and adult females, and among adult females within the harem through the active season. Amicable behavioral interactions are frequent within the harem, whereas interactions between members of different harems are primarily agonistic and spatial overlap is minimal. Although their behavioral repertoire is more limited, social organization...
Some ecological characteristics of 25 white-tailed (Cynomys leucurus) and 21 black-tailed (Cynomys ludovicianus) prairie dog colinies in Wyoming were compared. The size of the colonies and density of burrow openings were similar for the two species, but the number of white-tailed prairie dogs per 100 km2 and the number of hectares occupied by white-tails per 100 km 2 were 3.7 and 4.6 times greater, respectively, than for black-tails. Sixty-four vertebrate species (22 mammals, 33 birds, five reptiles, and four amphibians) were found on prairie dog colonies. The ecological relationships between prairie dogs and associated vertebrate predator species and the history of prairie dog control in Wyoming are discussed.
In order to better constrain the age and provenance of the Upper Cretaceous Wahweap and Kaiparowits formations in southern Utah, U-Pb SHRIMP ages were obtained for detrital zircons from three sandstone samples, in addition to the first 40Ar-39Ar age for the Wahweap Formation, obtained from a devitrified volcanic ash horizon (bentonite). The ash horizon, located 40 m above the base of the Wahweap Formation, yields an age of 80.1 ± 0.3 Ma. The new radiometric data improve upon previous biostratigraphic age estimates for the Wahweap Formation and indicate that the formation was deposited between approximately 81 and 76 Ma. The youngest population of detrital zircons from the base of the Wahweap Formation clusters...
Within the past few decades, humans have dramatically altered the earth?s nitrogen (N) cycle. Introduction of reactive nitrogen (N) into the biosphere by humans now exceeds the rate of biological N2-fixation in native terrestrial ecosystems (Galloway et al. 2004). This increased reactive N is due primarily to N fertilizer production and fossil fuel combustion used to support the food and energy demands of a rapidly expanding human population. The negative human and environment health effects of this increased N are many (Galloway et al. 2008; Howarth et al. 2005; UNEP and WHRC 2007). Denitrification is the main process that permanently removes fixed N from the environment. Denitrification, the microbial production...
Sulfate is a major component of bulk atmospheric deposition (including dust, aerosol, fog, and rain). We analyzed sulfur and oxygen isotopic compositions of water-soluble sulfate from 40 sites where year-round dust traps collect bulk atmospheric deposition in the southwestern United States. Average sulfur and oxygen isotopic compositions (?34S and ?18O) are 5.8 � 1.4 (CDT) and 11.2 � 1.9 (SMOW) (n = 47), respectively. Samples have an oxygen 17 anomaly (?17O), with an average value of 1.0 � 0.6?. Except for a weak positive correlation between ?18O and ?17O values (r2 ? 0.4), no correlation exists for ?18O versus ?34S, ?17O versus ?34S, or any of the three isotopic compositions versus elevation of the sample site....
A model for simulating desert dust cycle was adapted and applied for a dust storm case in the southwest United States (US). This is an initial test of the model's capability as part of a future public health early warning system. The modeled meteorological fields, which drive a dust storm, were evaluated against surface and upper-air measurement data. The modeled dust fields were compared with satellite images, in situ surface PM2.5 and PM10 data, and visibility data in the areas affected by the dust event. The model predicted meteorological fields reasonably well. The modeled surface and upper-air field patterns were in agreement with the measured ones. The vertical profiles of wind, temperature, and humidity followed...
Twelve northern desert shrub communities having the same macroclimate but differing habitats were studies. Arranged in order of decreasing production of live stems plus current growth, the communities were: (1) Sarcobatus vermiculatus (9,172 kg/ha), (2) Grayia spinosa (7,412 kg/ha), (3) Artemisia tridentata (5,474 kg/ha), (4) Chrysothamnus nauseosus (4,836 kg/ha), (5) Atriplex confertifolia (3,194 kg/ha), (6) Eurotia lanata (2,026 kg/ha), (7) Hilaria jamesii-Atriplex confertifolia (1,995 kg/ha), (8) Atriplex corrugata (1,949 kg/ha), (9) Chrysothamnus greenii filifolius (1,866 kg/ha), (10) Atriplex nuttallii (1,309 kg/ha), (11) Elymus salinus (865 kg/ha), and (12) Tetradymia spinosa (564 kg/ha). The communities were...
A year-round study was conducted to examine feeding habits and food resources of the filter-feeding Trichoptera Arctopsyche grandis and Brachycentrus occidentalis along a regulated mountain stream gradient. There was a well defined longitudinal species replacement with A. grandis reaching maximum densities 2.3 kilometers below the impoundment, and concomitant with its decline downstream was an increase in B. occidentalis. At all sampling sites the < 75="" �m="" organic="" seston="" fraction="" usually="" consisted="" primarily="" of="" diatoms="" (="">70%, by areal estimate on microscope slides), whereas the 75?250 �m and > 250 �m seston fractions were predominantly composed of detritus (> 80 %). B. occidentalis...
Historical and geologic records may be used to enhance magnitude estimates for extreme floods along mountain channels, as demonstrated in this study from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Historical photographs and local newspaper accounts from the October 1911 flood indicate the likely extent of flooding and damage. A checklist designed to organize and numerically score evidence of flooding was used in 15 field reconnaissance surveys in the upper Animas River valley of southwestern Colorado. Step-backwater flow modeling estimated the discharges necessary to create longitudinal flood bars observed at 6 additional field sites. According to these analyses, maximum unit discharge peaks at approximately 1.3 m3 s-1...
The ‘mass extinctions’ at the end of the Pleistocene were unique, both in the Pleistocene and earlier in the geological record, in that the species lost were nearly all large terrestrial mammals. Although a global phenomenon, late Pleistocene extinctions were most severe in North America, South America and Australia, and moderate in northern Eurasia (Europe plus Soviet Asia). In Africa, where nearly all of the late Pleistocene ‘megafauna’ survives to the present day, losses were slight. Ruling out epidemic disease or cosmic catastrophe, the contending hypotheses to explain late Pleistocene extinctions are: (a) failure to adapt to climatic/environmental change; and (b) extermination by human hunters (‘prehistoric...
As part of a captive-breeding program to restore extirpated Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis) to their native habitat in Washington, we documented mating and parental care behavior of these lagomorphs, which was previously unknown. Pygmy rabbits bred from late February through early June, and mating behavior consisted of chasing and brief copulations. Although presented with 1–4 mating partners and 1–6 mating opportunities annually, only 74% of females became pregnant each year. Unlike other lagomorphs, females dug a 16- to 35-cm natal burrow, usually separate from the residential burrow system, an average of 13 days after a successful copulation. Twenty-four days after copulation, females...
Past studies of plant?microbe interactions in the alpine nitrogen cycle have revealed a seasonal separation of N use, with plants absorbing N primarily during the summer months and microbes immobilizing N primarily during the autumn months. On the basis of these studies, it has been concluded that competition for N between plants and microbes is minimized along this seasonal gradient. In this study, we examined more deeply the links between microbial population dynamics and plant N availability in an alpine dry meadow. We conducted a year-round ?eld study and per formed experiments on isolated soil microorganisms. Based on previous work in this ecosystem, we hypothesized that microbial biomass would decline before...
One of the major concerns about global warming is the potential for an increase in decomposition and soil respiration rates, increasing CO2 emissions and creating a positive feedback between global warming and soil respiration. This is particularly important in ecosystems with large belowground biomass, such as grasslands where over 90% of the carbon is allocated belowground. A better understanding of the relative influence of climate and litter quality on litter decomposition is needed to predict these changes accurately in grasslands. The Long-Term Intersite Decomposition Experiment Team (LIDET) dataset was used to evaluate the influence of climatic variables (temperature, precipitation, actual evapotranspiration,...
A central question of invasion biology is how an exotic species invades new habitats following its initial establishment. Three hypotheses to explain this expansion are: (1) the existence of ‘general purpose’ genotypes, (2) the in situ evolution of novel genotypes, and (3) the dispersal of existing specialized genotypes into habitats for which they are pre-adapted. Bromus tectorum is a selfing exotic winter annual grass that has achieved widespread dominance in semiarid western North America and that is actively invading salt desert habitats. We examined mechanisms driving this invasion in three complementary studies. In reciprocal seeding experiments with ten populations from saline playa, salt desert shrubland,...
Plant macrofossils from packrat middens in two southeastern Utah caves outline development of modern plant zonation from the late Wisconsin. Allen Canyon Cave (2195 m) and Fishmouth Cave (1585 m) are located along a continuous gradient of outcropping Navajo Sandstone that extends from the Abajo Mountains south to the San Juan River. By holding the site constant, changes in the floral composition for a plot of less than one hectare can be observed, even if sporadically, over tens of millennia. At Allen Canyon Cave, Engelmann spruce-alpine fir forest was replaced by the present vegetation consisting of pinyon-juniper woodland on exposed ridgetops and cliffside stands of Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and aspen. Xerophytic...
Five alcoves (rock shelters) in the Forty-Mile Canyon—Willow Gulch area of the Escalante River Basin in southeastern Utah yielded rich deposits of late Quaternary macrobotanical remains. The deposits were sampled and the contents identified in order to construct a chronology of vegetational change. Fourteen radiocarbon dates indicate that the fossils were deposited between 12,690 and 7510 yr B.P. (years before present). Ninety-one plant taxa were identified, 62 to species. Six species were common to all alcoves: Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii), box-elder (Acer negundo), prickly pear (Opuntia subgenus Platyopuntia), skunkbush (Rhus aromatica var. trilobata), serviceberry (Amelanchier utahensis), and Indian ricegrass...


map background search result map search result map Social organization and space-use in Gunnison's prairie dog Social organization and space-use in Gunnison's prairie dog