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We determined changes in willow (Salixspp.) cover in two valleys of the eastern slope of Rocky Mountain National Park,Colorado, USA, and related these changes to suspected causative factors. Changes in vegetation were inferred from digital maps generated from aerial photo-interpretation and field surveys conducted with a global positioning system. The decrease in riparian shrub cover was approximately 20% in both valleys over the period between 1937/46 and 1996, while the decline in tall willow (> 2 m tall) cover was estimated to be approximately 55%in both valleys. Suppressed willows (< 1.5 m tall) were predominantly located in areas affected by flooding and in areas where major river reductions were observed....
Elk browsing and conifer species mixing with aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) present current challenges to aspen forest management in the western United States. We evaluated the effects of conifers and elk browsing on quaking aspen stands in and near Rocky Mountain National Park using tree rings to reconstruct patterns of aspen establishment, growth, and mortality over the past 120 years. High conifer encroachment and elk browse were both associated with decreased aspen recruitment, with mean recruitment dropping over 30% from pure aspen to mixed stands and over 50% from low-browse to high-browse stands. Maximum aspen recruitment was lower in mixed stands than in pure stands with the same tree basal area. High...