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Natural landscapes in the Southwestern United States are changing. In recent decades, rising temperatures and drought have led to drier conditions, contributed to large-scale ecological impacts, and affected many plant and animal species across the region. The current and future trajectory of climate change underscores the need for managers and conservation professionals to understand the impacts of these patterns on natural resources. In this regional assessment of the Southwest Climate Change Initiative, we evaluate changes in annual average temperatures from 1951–2006 across major habitats and large watersheds and compare these changes to the number of species of conservation concern that are found within these...
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Floods, spatially complex water flows, and organism movements all generate important fluxes of aquatic-derived materials into terrestrial habitats, counteracting the gravity-driven downhill transport of matter from terrestrial-to-aquatic ecosystems. The magnitude of these aquatic subsidies isoften smaller than terrestrial subsidies to aquatic ecosystems but higher in nutritional quality, energy density, and nutrient concentration. The lateral extent of biological aquatic subsidies is typically small, extending only a few meters into riparian habitat; however, terrestrial consumers often aggregate on shorelines to capitalize on these high-quality resources. Although the ecological effects of aquatic subsidies remain...
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How local geomorphic and hydrologic features mediate the sensitivity of stream thermal regimes to variation in climatic conditions remains a critical uncertainty in understanding aquatic ecosystem responses to climate change. We used stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen to estimate contributions of snow and rainfall to 80 boreal streams and show that differences in snow contribution are controlled by watershed topography. Time series analysis of stream thermal regimes revealed that streams in rain-dominated, low-elevation watersheds were 5–8 times more sensitive to variation in summer air temperature compared to streams draining steeper topography whose flows were dominated by snowmelt. This effect was more pronounced...
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In this first worldwide synthesis of in situ and satellite-derived lake data, we find that lakesummer surface water temperatures rose rapidly (global mean = 0.34°C decade1) between 1985 and2009. Our analyses show that surface water warming rates are dependent on combinations of climate andlocal characteristics, rather than just lake location, leading to the counterintuitive result that regionalconsistency in lake warming is the exception, rather than the rule. The most rapidly warming lakes are widelygeographically distributed, and their warming is associated with interactions among different climatic factors—from seasonally ice-covered lakes in areas where temperature and solar radiation are increasing whilecloud...
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Grasslands of the Sky Islands region once covered over 13 million acres in southeastern Arizona and adjacent portions of New Mexico, Sonora, and Chihuahua. Attempts to evaluate current ecological conditions suggest that approximately two thirds of these remain as intact or restorable grassland habitat. These grasslands provide watershed services such as flood control and aquifer recharge across the region, and continue to support dozens of species of concern. Prioritizing conservation interventions for these remaining grassland blocks has been challenging. Reliable data on condition and conservation value of grasslands in the region have not been systematically summarized. State and national boundaries further complicate...
Abstract: Biological indicators, particularly benthic macroinvertebrates, are widely used and effective measures of the impact of urbanization on stream ecosystems. A multimetric biological index of urbanization was developed using a large benthic macroinvertebrate dataset (n = 1,835) from the Baltimore, Maryland, metropolitan area and then validated with datasets from Cleveland, Ohio (n = 79); San Jose, California (n = 85); and a different subset of the Baltimore data (n = 85). The biological metrics used to develop the multimetric index were selected using several criteria and were required to represent ecological attributes of macroinvertebrate assemblages including taxonomic composition and richness (number...
I studied desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis, nelsoni) behavior and habitat use in response to boating activities during 1985. The percent of total observed time in attention behavior before the boating season, during the boating season, and while riverboats were < 0.8 km from bighorn sheep groups was 1, 1.4, and 12.2, respectively. Estimated energy expenditure did not significantly differ for high riverboat pressures (p > 0.2) or seasonal comparisons (p > 0.1). Habitat use significantly differed for proximity to the river, which was probably related to the summer use of the river for drinking. Moderate, minor, and no responses to passing riverboats were observed 3, 39, s and 58%, respectively. Responses to riverboats...
Abstract (from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00028487.2012.734892#.VDw7ExYXNyg): Predicting the distribution of native stream fishes is fundamental to the management and conservation of many species. Modeling species distributions often consists of quantifying relationships between species occurrence and abundance data at known locations with environmental data at those locations. However, it is well documented that native stream fish distributions can be altered as a result of asymmetric interactions between dominant exotic and subordinate native species. For example, the naturalized exotic Brown Trout Salmo trutta has been identified as a threat to native Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis in the eastern...
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When resources are spatially and temporally variable, consumers can increasetheir foraging success by moving to track ephemeral feeding opportunitiesas these shift across the landscape; the best examples derive from herbivore–plant systems, where grazers migrate to capitalize on the seasonal waves ofvegetation growth. We evaluated whether analogous processes occur in watershedssupporting spawning sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka), askingwhether seasonal activities ofpredators and scavengers shift spatial distributionsto capitalize on asynchronous spawning among populations of salmon. Bothglaucous-winged gulls and coastal brown bears showed distinct shifts in theirspatial distributions over the course of the summer,...
The strength of top-down forces in terrestrial food webs is highly debated as there are few examples illustrating the role of largemammalian carnivores in structuring biotic and abiotic systems. Based on the results of this studywe hypothesize that an increase in human visitation within Zion Canyon of Zion National Park ultimately resulted in a catastrophic regime shift through pathways involving trophic cascades and abiotic environmental changes. Increases in human visitors in Zion Canyon apparently reduced cougar (Puma concolor) densities, which subsequently led to higher mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) densities, higher browsing intensities and reduced recruitment of riparian cottonwood trees (Populus fremontii),...
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Riparian grasslands dominated by big sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii) once covered floodplains across the southwest, but have been reduced to some 5% of their historical extent. Sacaton stands that remain provide key resources for watershed function, wildlife, and livestock—yet may need special management to sustain these benefits. This report describes mapping methods and management recommendations that can be applied to riparian grasslands throughout the region. By examining sacaton grasslands in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, this project also refines methods for evaluating ecological condition, and provides managers at this site with detailed maps of both high-quality habitat and restoration needs.
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How local geomorphic and hydrologic features mediate the sensitivity of stream thermal regimesto variation in climatic conditions remains a critical uncertainty in understanding aquatic ecosystem responsesto climate change.We used stable isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen to estimate contributions of snow and rainfallto 80 boreal streams and show that differences in snow contribution are controlled by watershed topography.Time series analysis of streamthermal regimes revealed that streams in rain-dominated, low-elevation watershedswere 5–8 times more sensitive to variation in summer air temperature compared to streams draining steepertopography whose flows were dominated by snowmelt. This effect wasmore pronounced...
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Global environmental change has influenced lake surface temperatures, a key driver of ecosystem structureand function. Recent studies have suggested significant warming of water temperatures in individual lakesacross many different regions around the world. However, the spatial and temporal coherence associatedwith the magnitude of these trends remains unclear. Thus, a global data set of water temperature isrequired to understand and synthesize global, long-term trends in surface water temperatures of inlandbodies of water. We assembled a database of summer lake surface temperatures for 291 lakes collectedin situ and/or by satellites for the period 1985–2009. In addition, corresponding climatic drivers (airtemperatures,...
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NatureServe worked with several federal, state, and NGO partners in the United States and Mexico to conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment of major natural community types found within the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. The project focused on ten major upland, riparian, and aquatic community types, including pinyon-juniper woodlands, Joshua tree-blackbrush scrub, creosote-bursage scrub, salt desert scrub, Paloverde-mixed cacti scrub, semi-desert grassland, desert riparian and stream, riparian mesquite bosque, and desert springs. This effort piloted a new Habitat Climate Change Vulnerability Index (HCCVI) approach being developed by NatureServe, as a companion to an existing index for species. The project...
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This dataset is a component of a complete package of products from the Connect the Connecticut project. Connect the Connecticut is a collaborative effort to identify shared priorities for conserving the Connecticut River Watershed for future generations, considering the value of fish and wildlife species and the natural ecosystems they inhabit. Click here to download the full data package, including all documentation.These datasets represent aquatic core areas and aquatic buffers, in combination with terrestrial cores and connectors they spatially represent the ecological network derived from the CTR LCD project.Lotic cores: This set of lotic (river and stream) core areas, in combination with the lotic cores and...
The relationship between form and function has been a central organizing principle in biology throughout its history as a formal science. This concept has been relevant from molecules to organisms but loses meaning at population and community levels where study targets are abstract collectives and assemblages. Ecosystems include organisms and abiotic factors but ecosystem ecology too has developed until recently without a strong spatially explicit reference. Landscape ecology provides an opportunity to once again anneal form and function and to consider reciprocal causation between them. This ecomorphologic view can be applied at a variety of ecologically relevant scales and consists of an investigation of how geomorphology...
1. The effects of phosphorus enrichment and grazing snails on a benthic microbial community that builds stromatolic oncolites were examined in an experiment at Rio Mesquites, Cuatro Ci�negas, Mexico. Chemical analyses of stream water samples indicated that overall atomic ratios of total nitrogen (N) to total phosphorus (P) were approximately 110, indicating a strong potential for P-limitation of microbial growth. 2. Phosphorus enrichment involved addition of 5 ?mol Na2HPO4 L-1 to streamside microcosms receiving intermittent inputs of stream water while grazer manipulation involved removal of the dominant grazer, the snail Mexithauma quadripaludium. After 7 weeks, we examined responses in organic matter content,...
Riparian ecosystems are vital components of aridlands within the southwestern United States. Historically, surface flows influenced population dynamics of native riparian trees. Many southwestern streams has been altered by regulation, however, and will be further affected by greenhouse warming. Our analysis of stream gage data revealed that decreases in volume of annual discharge and mean peak discharge and a shift to earlier peak discharge will occur in the Southern Rockies region of Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. These changes will likely decrease rates of reproduction and survival of cottonwood (Populus fremontii and Populus deltoides ssp. wislizenii), Goodding’s willow (Salix gooddingii), and boxelder (Acer...
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Most groundwater conservation and management efforts focus on protecting groundwater for drinking water and for other human uses with little understanding or focus on the ecosystems that depend on groundwater. However, groundwater plays an integral role in sustaining certain types of aquatic, terrestrial and coastal ecosystems, and their associated landscapes. Our aim was to illuminate the connection between groundwater and surface ecosystems by identifying and mapping the distribution of groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) in California. This layer includes watersheds from the Watershed Boundary Database at the 12-digit hydrologic unit code (HUC12) scale. Each watershed is attributed with summary information...


map background search result map search result map Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Strategies for Natural Communities Sustaining the Grassland Sea Managing Changing Landscapes in the Southwestern United States Sacaton Riparian Grasslands Mapping Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems in California Aquatic Cores and Buffers, CT River Watershed Watershed geomorphology and snowmelt control stream thermal sensitivity to air temperature. Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe Watershed geomorphology and snowmelt control stream thermal sensitivity to air temperature Riding the crimson tide: mobile terrestrial consumers track phenological variation in spawning of an anadromous fish Subsidies of Aquatic Resources in Terrestrial Ecosystems A global database of lake surface temperatures collected by in situ and satellite methods from 1985–2009 Sacaton Riparian Grasslands Watershed geomorphology and snowmelt control stream thermal sensitivity to air temperature. Riding the crimson tide: mobile terrestrial consumers track phenological variation in spawning of an anadromous fish Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe Watershed geomorphology and snowmelt control stream thermal sensitivity to air temperature Subsidies of Aquatic Resources in Terrestrial Ecosystems A global database of lake surface temperatures collected by in situ and satellite methods from 1985–2009 Sustaining the Grassland Sea Aquatic Cores and Buffers, CT River Watershed Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation Strategies for Natural Communities Mapping Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems in California Managing Changing Landscapes in the Southwestern United States