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Kathleen A. Dwire

Kate Dwire - Research Riparian Ecologist

Research Ecologist

240 West Prospect Road
Fort Collins, CO 80526
Contact Kathleen A. Dwire

Current Research

Riparian Ecology

  • Comparison of forest attributes and fuel loads in riparian vs. upland stands in beetle-infested watersheds
  • Influence of canopy condition on instream water temperature regimes in cutthroat trout streams, CO
  • Fuels management in riparian areas of the interior west

Watershed Processes

  • Effects of wildland fire on stream-riparian processes and biota; post-fire recovery of riparian vegetation
  • Influence of disturbance (fire, insects) on large wood dynamics in Rocky Mountain streams
  • Characterization of riparian, alpine, and slope wetlands and linkages to streams in Rocky Mountain headwater basins.
  • Mechanisms of carbon storage and evaluation of carbon pools along headwater streams

Some Recent Publications: See the "Publications and Products" tab for more publications.

Dwire, Kathleen A.; Mellmann-Brown, Sabine. 2017. Climate change and special habitats in the Blue Mountains: Riparian areas, wetlands, and groundwater-dependent ecosystems [Chapter 7]. In: Halofsky, Jessica E.; Peterson, David L., eds. Climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Blue Mountains. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-939. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. p. 251-323.

Foster, Adrianna C.; Shuman, Jacquelyn K.; Shugart, Herman H.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Fornwalt, Paula J.; Sibold, Jason; Negron, Jose. 2017. Validation and application of a forest gap model to the southern Rocky Mountains. Ecological Modelling. 351: 109-128.

Sutfin, Nicholas A.; Wohl, Ellen E.; Dwire, Kathleen A. 2016. Banking carbon: A review of organic carbon storage and physical factors influencing retention in floodplains and riparian ecosystems. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 41: 38-60.

Ruffing, Claire M.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Daniels, Melinda D. 2016. Carbon pools in stream-riparian corridors: legacy of disturbance along mountain streams of south-eastern Wyoming. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 41: 208-223.

Dwire, Kathleen A.; Meyer, Kristen E.; Riegel, Gregg; Burton, Timothy. 2016. Riparian fuel treatments in the western USA: Challenges and considerations. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-352. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 156 p.  |   Stream Notes (The Technical Newsletter of the National Stream and Aquatic Ecology Center) May 2017 Issue.

Briefing Papers and other documents:

Adaptation for Wildland Aquatic Resources - Science Briefing

Carbon Storage in Mountain Rivers - Science Briefing

Upper Verde River: Review of Stream-Riparian Monitoring Efforts

Research Interests

  • Riparian forest structure, canopy condition and fuel loads in beetle-infested watersheds;
  • Impacts of forest disturbance (insects, fire, wind) and climate change on riparian function;
  • Distribution of riparian plant species and communities in relation to disturbance and hydrologic, climatic and geomorphic variables;
  • Influence of management and disturbance on large wood dynamics in Rocky Mountain streams;
  • Effects of prescribed and natural fire on stream-riparian processes and biota;
  • Carbon stocks and organic matter dynamics in wetlands, and stream-riparian ecosystems;
  • Characterization of groundwater-dependent ecosystems (springs; riparian, alpine, and slope wetlands) in Rocky Mountain headwater basins;
  • Assessment and monitoring of wetland, stream and riparian condition; impacts of management on structure and function of wetlands and riparian areas.


  • University of California, Santa Barbara, B.A., Environmental Biology, 1975
  • University of California, Davis, M.S., Plant Ecology, 1983
  • Oregon State University, Ph.D., Fisheries, 2001
  • Featured Publications


    Rhoades, Charles C.; Fegel, Timothy; Covino, Timothy P.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Elder, Kelly J., 2021. Sources of variability in springwater chemistry in Fool Creek, a high-elevation catchment of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado, USA
    Cartwright, Jennifer M.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Freed, Zach; Hammer, Samantha J.; McLaughlin, Blair; Misztal, Louise W.; Schenk, Edward R.; Spence, John R.; Springer, Abraham E.; Stevens, Lawrence E., 2020. Oases of the future? Springs as potential hydrologic refugia in drying climates
    Cooke, Brian; Battaglia, Mike; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Joyce, Linda A.; Merritt, David; Oropeza, Jill; Regan, Claudia; Reynolds, Lindsay; Rice, Janine; Schillie, Trey, 2018. Warming and warnings: Assessing climate change vulnerability in the Rocky Mountain Region
    Heidel, Bonnie; Fertig, Walter; Mellmann-Brown, Sabine; Houston, Kent E.; Dwire, Kathleen A., 2017. Fens and their rare plants in the Beartooth Mountains, Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming
    Caskey, Simeon T.; Blaschak, Tyanna S.; Wohl, Ellen; Schnackenberg, Elizabeth; Merritt, David M.; Dwire, Kathleen A., 2015. Downstream effects of stream flow diversion on channel characteristics and riparian vegetation in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, USA
    Bixby, Rebecca J.; Cooper, Scott D.; Gresswell, Robert E.; Brown, Lee E.; Dahm, Clifford N.; Dwire, Kathleen A., 2015. Fire effects on aquatic ecosystems: An assessment of the current state of the science
    Mayer, Paul M.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Okay, Judith A.; Vidon, Philipe G., 2014. Featured collection introduction: Riparian ecosystems and buffers II
    Meyer, Kristen E.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Champ, Patricia A.; Ryan-Burkett, Sandra E.; Riegel, Gregg M.; Burton, Timothy A., 2012. Burning questions for managers: Fuels management practices in riparian areas
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Wohl, Ellen E.; Sutfin, Nicholas A.; Bazan, Roberto A.; Polvi-Pilgrim, Lina, 2012. Carbon pools along headwater streams with differing valley geometry in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado (Abstract)
    Luce, Charles H.; Morgan, Penny; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Isaak, Daniel J.; Holden, Zachary; Rieman, Bruce, 2012. Climate change, forests, fire, water, and fish: Building resilient landscapes, streams, and managers
    Wohl, Ellen; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Sutfin, Nicholas; Polvi, Lina; Bazan, Roberto, 2012. Mechanisms of carbon storage in mountainous headwater rivers
    Stone, Katharine R.; Pilliod, David S.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Wollrab, Sherry P.; Young, Michael K., 2010. Fuel reduction management practices in riparian areas of the western USA
    Mayer, Paul M.; Todd, Albert H.; Okay, Judith A.; Dwire, Kathleen A., 2010. Introduction to the featured collection on riparian ecosystems and buffers
    Wiener, John D.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Skagen, Susan K.; Crifasi, Robert R.; Yates, David, 2008. Riparian ecosystem consequences of water redistribution along the Colorado Front Range
    Perkins, Dana L.; Parks, Catherine G.; Dwire, Kathleen A.; Endress, Bryan A.; Johnson, Kelsi L., 2006. Age structure and age-related performance of sulfur cinquefoil (Potentilla recta).
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Ryan, Sandra E.; Shirley, Laura J.; Lytjen, Danna; Otting, Nick; Dixon, Mark K., 2006. Influence of herbivory on regrowth of riparian shrubs following a wildland fire
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Parks, Catherine G.; McInnis, Michael L.; Naylor, Bridgett J., 2006. Seed production and dispersal of sulfur cinquefoil in northeast Oregon
    Parks, Catherine G.; Radosevich, Steven R.; Endress, Bryan A.; Naylor, Bridgett J.; Anzinger, Dawn; Rew, Lisa J.; Maxwell, Bruce D.; Dwire, Kathleen A., 2005. Natural and land-use history of the Northwest mountain ecoregions (USA) in relation to patterns of plant invasions.
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Kauffman, J. Boone; Brookshire, E. N. Jack; Baham, John E., 2004. Plant biomass and species composition along an environmental gradient in montane riparian meadows
    Dwire, Kathleen A.; Kauffman, J. Boone, 2003. Fire and riparian ecosystems in landscapes of the western USA
    Photo of a fen with floating mat on the water. The mat has Carex limosa and Sphagnum mosses
    Mountain fens (peat-accumulating wetlands) are groundwater-dependent habitats (i.e. groundwater dependent ecosystems) protected under the Clean Water Act and other federal mandates in the United States. There is increasing interest in documenting and monitoring the occurrence and characteristics of fens. In addition to supporting unusual plants, fens are sites of carbon and water storage and long-term ecological stability, since the underlying peat requires thousands of years to accumulate. This report describes 18 fens in the Beartooth Mountains of Wyoming; they were chosen for review because they contain unusually large numbers of rare plants, and have been surveyed or sampled for more than 40 years. Information from the report provides baseline information for future research in the Beartooths, and comparison data for other ranges.
    Stream in Rocky Mountain National Park.
    Riparian carbon storage represent a previously undocumented but important carbon sink. Findings show that low-gradient, broad valley bottoms with old-growth forest or active beaver colonies store the majority of carbon along mountainous streams.
    Through fire management and riparian ecosystem restoration RMRS researchers Terrie Jain, Kate Dwire, and Travis Warziniack are partnering with the University of Idaho and the Idaho City Ranger District to develop, implement, and evaluate different adaptive management strategies to improve the fire resiliency of the Boise National Forest. 
    This project is an interdisciplinary working group focused on collecting, documenting, exchanging, and archiving information about R4 groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs), particularly springs and wetlands.Current partners include Kate Dwire (RMRS), John Proctor (R4 Botanist), Mark Muir (R4 Hydrologist), Cynthia Tait (R4 Aquatic Program Manager), and Jeff Bruggink (R4 Soil Scientist).
    RMRS researchers Terrie Jain, Kate Dwire, and Travis Warziniack are partnering with managers on the Boise National Forest and scientists at the University of Idaho to develop, implement, and evaluate place-based adaptive management strategies with the goal of improving the resilience of Northern Rockies ponderosa pine stands to fire and other disturbances.
    Wildland fires in the arid west create a cause for concern for many inhabitants and an area of interest for researchers. Wildfires dramatically change watersheds, yielding floods and debris flows that endanger water supplies, human lives, and valuable fish habitats.