[MCN] Riverside cottonwoods: Today, the Rio Grande, tomorrow the Teton and Musselshell?

Lance Olsen lance at wildrockies.org
Sun Aug 27 14:43:40 EDT 2017

Firescience.gov <http://firescience.gov/> Friday Flash eNews

Issue 214 |  August 25, 2017 

Climate Change and Wildfire Effects

D. Max Smith <mailto:davidmsmith at fs.fed.us> is a Research Associate contracted with the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Dr. Deborah M. Finch <mailto:dfinch at fs.fed.us> is a Supervisory Biologist and Program Manager with the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Notes/interesting findings

Cottonwoods and other trees are key components of aridland riparian ecosystems.
Reproduction and survival of these plants are largely determined by volume and timing of streamflows.
Following alteration to natural disturbance regimes, wildfire has emerged as a threat to riparian ecosystems along streams such as the Middle Rio Grande, where non-native plants such saltcedar recover from fire more effectively than native species.
Cottonwood population projections indicated that sharp declines will occur as a result of climate-induced changes to streamflow and continued occurrence of wildfire.
A frequently discussed function of aridland riparian ecosystems is the contribution of woody riparian plants to breeding bird habitat. The structurally diverse, species-rich vegetation along many southwestern streams supports high densities of territories and nest sites for a variety of birds including several species of high conservation priority. Survival and reproduction of woody riparian plants is largely determined by periodic disturbances such as flood and drought. Hydrological models, incorporating greenhouse gas emission scenarios, predict that these changes will be exacerbated by climate change. Given the limited extent of aridland riparian ecosystems and likelihood of further hydrological change, an understanding of current and future effects of disturbance processes on populations of riparian plants are needed to protect breeding bird communities in the American Southwest.

Final report
https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_series/rmrs/gtr/rmrs_gtr364.pdf <https://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs_series/rmrs/gtr/rmrs_gtr364.pdf>

“The ecological systems upon which humans rely for life support are in crisis, and 
human behavior is the root cause. These problems are thus not environmental, 
but rather related to how humans meet their needs and wants in disruptive ways.”
Elise Amel, Christie Manning, Britain Scott, Susan Koger
Science 21 April 2017

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