Skip to Main Content
Climate change and wildfire effects in aridland riparian ecosystems: An examination of current and future conditionsAuthor(s): D. Max Smith; Deborah M. Finch
Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-364. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 65 p.
Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
PDF: View PDF (10.0 MB)
Related Research Highlights
Climate change and wildfire effects in aridland riparian ecosystems
DescriptionAridland riparian ecosystems are limited, the climate is changing, and further hydrological change is likely in the American Southwest. To protect riparian ecosystems and organisms, we need to understand how they are affected by disturbance processes and stressors such as fire, drought, and non-native plant invasions. Riparian vegetation is critically important as foraging, resting, migrating, and breeding habitat to birds and other animal species in the southwestern United States. Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii), Arizona sycamore (Platanus wrightii), and other woody species provide birds with nesting sites and foraging opportunities, some of which are absent or rare in adjacent plant communities. 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 floods and droughts. As in other regions, rivers and streams of the American Southwest have been heavily altered by human activity, resulting in significant changes to disturbance regimes. Hydrological models, incorporating greenhouse gas emission scenarios, project that these changes will be exacerbated by climate change. In this report, we review the ecohydrology of southwestern streams and share results from our study sites along the Middle Rio Grande to describe effects of hydrological changes, wildfire, and invasions on plant communities and riparian-nesting birds. We also examine climate change projections and output from population models to gauge the future of aridland riparian ecosystems in an increasingly arid Southwest.
- You may send email to email@example.com to request a hard copy of this publication.
- (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationSmith, D. Max; Finch, Deborah M. 2017. Climate change and wildfire effects in aridland riparian ecosystems: An examination of current and future conditions. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-364. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 65 p.
Keywordsbreeding birds, climate change, Middle Rio Grande, riparian, woody vegetation, wildfire
- Riparian trees and aridland streams of the southwestern United States: An assessment of the past, present, and future
- Decay fungi of riparian trees in the Southwestern U.S.
- Use of native and nonnative nest plants by riparian-nesting birds along two streams in New Mexico
XML: View XML