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In many places along the lower Colorado River, saltcedar (Tamarix spp) has replaced the native shrubs and trees, including arrowweed, mesquite, cottonwood and willows. Some have advocated that by removing saltcedar, we could save water and create environments more favourable to these native species. To test these assumptions we compared sap flux measurements of water used by native species in contrast to saltcedar, and compared soil salinity, ground water depth and soil moisture across a gradient of 200?1500 m from the river's edge on a floodplain terrace at Cibola National Wildlife Refuge (CNWR). We found that the fraction of land covered (fc) with vegetation in 2005?2007 was similar to that occupied by native...
Human activities have caused the decline of numerous species and ecosystems. To promote ecosystem resilience, recent management efforts aim to maintain ecosystem patterns and processes within their historical range of variability. There has been substantial concern that quaking aspen, the most widely distributed tree in North America and the most important deciduous tree in the subalpine forests of the Rocky Mountains, has declined significantly in the western landscape during the 20th century. This reported decline has been attributed to conifer encroachment associated with fire exclusion, as well as other causes. To assess long-term changes in the extent of quaking aspen in a 175000-ha study area in western Colorado,...
Groundwater is a key driver of riparian condition on dryland rivers but is in high demand for municipal, industrial, and agricultural uses. Approaches are needed to guide decisions that balance human water needs while conserving riparian ecosystems. We developed a space-for-time substitution model that links groundwater change scenarios implemented within a Decision Support System (DSS) with proportions of floodplain vegetation types and abundances of breeding and migratory birds along the upper San Pedro River, AZ, USA. We investigated nine scenarios ranging from groundwater depletion to recharge. In groundwater decline scenarios, relative proportions of tall-canopied obligate phreatophytes (Populus/Salix, cottonwood/willow)...
A new species of poplar is recognized based on abundant specimens from the early Middle Eocene Parachute Creek Member of the Green River Formation in eastern Utah and western Colorado and compared with two other contemporary species. A rare twig bearing both leaves and fruits serves as a Rosetta stone, linking the vegetative and reproductive structures that formerly were only known from dispersed organs. Fruit and foliage characters distinguish Populus tidwellii sp. n. from Populus cinnamomoides (Lesquereux) MacGinitie (typified on specimens from Green River Station, WY), to which the isolated leaves had formerly been attributed. In addition, new data from fruits and foliage confirm that there were two distinct...
Environmental flows have become important restoration tools on regulated rivers. However, environmental flows are often constrained by other demands within the river system and thus typically are comprised of smaller water volumes than the natural flows they are meant to replace, which can limit their functional efficacy. We review environmental flow programs aimed at restoring riparian vegetation on four arid zone rivers: the Tarim River in China; the Bill Williams River in Arizona, U.S.; the delta of the Colorado River in Mexico; and the Murrumbidgee River in southern Australia. Our goal is to determine what worked and what did not work to accomplish restoration goals. The lower Tarim River in China formerly formed...
Tamarix spp. removal has been proposed to salvage water and allow native vegetation to recolonize western U.S. riparian corridors. We conducted wide-area studies on the Lower Colorado River to answer some of the scientific questions about Tamarix water use and the consequences of removal, combining ground surveys with remote sensing methods. Tamarix stands had moderate rates of evapotranspiration (ET), based on remote sensing estimates, averaging 1.1 m/yr, similar to rates determined for other locations on the river and other rivers. Leaf area index values were also moderate, and stands were relatively open, with areas of bare soil interspersed within stands. At three Tamarix sites in the Cibola National Wildlife...
As global climate change affects recharge and runoff processes, stream flow regimes are being altered. In the American Southwest, increasing aridity is predicted to cause declines in stream base flows and water tables. Another potential outcome of climate change is increased flood intensity. Changes in these stream flow conditions may independently affect vegetation or may have synergistic effects. Our goal was to extrapolate vegetation response to climate-linked stream flow changes, by taking advantage of the spatial variation in flow conditions over a 200 km length of the San Pedro River (Arizona). Riparian vegetation traits were contrasted between sites differing in low-flow hydrology (degree of stream intermittency)...
Drastic alterations to river hydrology, land use change, and the spread of the nonnative shrub, tamarisk (Tamarix spp.), have led to the degradation of riparian habitat in the Colorado River Delta in Mexico. Delivery of environmental flows to promote native cottonwood (Populus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.) recruitment in human-impacted riparian systems can be unsuccessful due to flow-magnitude constraints and altered abiotic–biotic feedbacks. In 2014, an experimental pulse flow of water was delivered to the Colorado River in Mexico as part of the U.S.-Mexico binational agreement, Minute 319. We conducted a field experiment to assess the effects of vegetation removal, seed augmentation, and environmental flows, separately...
1. Riparian vegetation in dry regions is influenced by low-flow and high-flow components of the surface and groundwater flow regimes. The duration of no-flow periods in the surface stream controls vegetation structure along the low-flow channel, while depth, magnitude and rate of groundwater decline influence phreatophytic vegetation in the floodplain. Flood flows influence vegetation along channels and floodplains by increasing water availability and by creating ecosystem disturbance. 2. On reference rivers in Arizona's Sonoran Desert region, the combination of perennial stream flows, shallow groundwater in the riparian (stream) aquifer, and frequent flooding results in high plant species diversity and landscape...
Cottonwoods (Populus spp.) are adapted to ripar-ian or floodplain zones throughout the Northern Hemisphere; they are also used as parents for fast-growing hybrid poplars. We review recent ecophysiological studies of the native cottonwoods Populus angustifolia James, P. balsamifera L., P. deltoides Marsh., P. fremontii S. Watson and P. trichocarpa T. & G. in North America, and P. nigra L. in Europe. Variation exists within and across species and hybrids; however, all riparian cottonwoods are dependent on shallow alluvial groundwater that is linked to stream water, particularly in semi-arid regions. This conclusion is based on studies of their natural occurrence, decline following river damming and dewatering (water...
Managing streamflow is a widely-advocated approach to provide conditions necessary for seed germination and seedling establishment of trees in the willow family (Salicaceae). Experimental flow releases to the Colorado River delta in 2014 had a primary objective of promoting seedling establishment of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and Goodding's willow (Salix gooddingii). We assessed seed germination and seedling establishment of these taxa as well as the non-native tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) and native seepwillow shrubs (Baccharis spp.) in the context of seedling requirements and active land management (land grading, vegetation removal) at 23 study sites along 87 river km. In the absence of associated active...
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This data release consists of the following components: Sex ratio data from cottonwood trees at random points on the floodplain in the North and South units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND. These data were used to investigate the effects of age, height above, and distance from the channel on mortality of male and female trees of plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides subsp. monilifera) as described in the Friedman and Griffin (2017) report. Tree core and tree ring data from the North and South Units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. South Unit data was collected in April 2012, North Unit data was collected in the summer and fall of 2010. The trees are located on the floodplain of the Little...
Ground-water and surface flow depletions are altering riparian ecosystems throughout the southwestern United States, and have contributed to the decline of forests of the pioneer trees Populus fremontii (Fremont cottonwood) and Salix gooddingii (Goodding willow). On some rivers, these forests have been replaced by shrublands of Tamarix ramosissima (tamarisk), a drought-tolerant species from Eurasia. The physiological response of these three riparian plant species to decreases in water availability is well studied, but little attention has been given to shifts in community and population structure in response to declines in surface flow and ground-water levels. Based on study of 17 sites spanning a hydrologic gradient,...
Aim A regional analysis was used to explore the influence of river regulation on the dominance of non-native, invasive shrubs and trees. We addressed the following questions: (1) How do large dams affect hydrological parameters that influence riparian vegetation? (2) How do flow regimes affect the dominance of non-native woody species? (3) How do changes in flow regimes affect the dominance of non-native woody species? Location South-western USA. Methods We sampled the canopy cover of woody species on 179 point bars along seven non-dammed and thirteen dammed river segments. Wilcoxon rank sum tests were used to determine differences between flow parameters in dammed and non-dammed rivers. We used correlation analyses...
Dynamics of nutrient exchange between floodplains and rivers have been altered by changes in flow management and proliferation of nonnative plants. We tested the hypothesis that the nonnative, actinorhizal tree, Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), alters dynamics of leaf litter decomposition compared to native cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. wislizeni) along the Rio Grande, a river with a modified flow regime, in central New Mexico (U.S.A.). Leaf litter was placed in the river channel and the surface and subsurface horizons of forest soil at seven riparian sites that differed in their hydrologic connection to the river. All sites had a cottonwood canopy with a Russian olive-dominated understory. Mass loss...
Flow regulation effects on floodplain forests in the semi-arid western United States are moderately well understood, whereas effects associated with changes in floodplain land use are poorly documented. We mapped land cover patterns from recent aerial photos and applied a classification scheme to mainstem alluvial floodplains in 10 subjectively selected 4th order hydrologic units (subbasins) in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB) in order to document land use patterns (floodplain development) and assess their effects on Fremont cottonwood forest (CF) regeneration. Three of the mainstem rivers were unregulated, five were moderately regulated and two were highly regulated. We classified polygons as Undeveloped (with...
Riparian ecosystems in the south-western United States have undergone extensive physical and biological changes, due, in part, to alteration of natural flow regimes and suppression of fluvial processes. Many riparian ecosystem restoration projects are achieving success because they recognize the importance of restoring the hydrologic regime. In other words, these projects are restoring flows of water and sediment in sufficient quantities and with appropriate temporal and spatial patterns. Other projects have proceeded without recognition of the need to incorporate environmental stream flow requirements into management plans. To increase success rate of riparian ecosystem restoration, this paper describes some changes...
During the 20th Century the flow of most rivers in the United States was regulated by diversions and dams, with major impacts on riparian forests. Few unregulated rivers remain to provide baseline information for assessing these impacts. We characterized patterns in riparian plant communities along chronosequences on the unregulated Yampa River and the regulated Green River in northwestern Colorado, examining patterns in plant species diversity in relation to the ages of floodplain terraces. On both rivers, mean plant species richness in cottonwood (Populus deltoides Marshall subsp. wislizenzii (Watson) Eckenwalder) dominated riparian forests declined by more than 50% from young sites (<20 years) to old upland terraces...
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Populus?Salix forests are a valued riparian vegetation type in western North America. These pioneer, obligate phreatophytes have declined on some rivers, raising conservation concerns and stimulating restoration plantings, but have increased on others. Understanding patterns and causes of forest change is essential for formulating conservation, restoration and management plans. Our goal was to assess spatio-temporal patterns of vegetation change on the Upper San Pedro River in semiarid Arizona, USA, one of the few undammed rivers in the region. Over 100 years ago, intense floods initiated channel incision and substantially altered hydrogeomorphology. Pioneer trees began to establish in the widening post-entrenchment...
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* 1 The structure and functioning of riverine ecosystems is dependent upon regional setting and the interplay of hydrologic regime and geomorphologic processes. We used a retrospective analysis to study recruitment along broad, alluvial valley segments (parks) and canyon segments of the unregulated Yampa River and the regulated Green River in the upper Colorado River basin, USA. We precisely aged 811 individuals of Populus deltoides ssp. wislizenii (native) and Tamarix ramosissima (exotic) from 182 wooded patches and determined the elevation and character of the germination surface for each. We used logistic regression to relate recruitment events (presence or absence of cohort) to five flow and two weather parameters....


map background search result map search result map Multiple pathways for woody plant establishment on floodplains at local to regional scales A century of riparian forest expansion following extreme disturbance: Spatio-temporal change in Populus/Salix/Tamarix forests along the Upper San Pedro River, Arizona, USA Cottonwood Management at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota Cottonwood Management at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota A century of riparian forest expansion following extreme disturbance: Spatio-temporal change in Populus/Salix/Tamarix forests along the Upper San Pedro River, Arizona, USA Multiple pathways for woody plant establishment on floodplains at local to regional scales