River Management Impacts on Riparian Forest Vegetation Along the Middle Rio Grande: 1935 - 2014
AuthorPetrakis, Roy Edward
KeywordsLand Cover Change
Advisorvan Leeuwen, Willem J.D.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractRiparian ecosystems of the southwestern United States are highly valuable to both the ecological and human communities which surround them. Over the past century, they have been subject to shifting management practices to maximize human use, control, ecosystem service, and conservation. This creates a complex relationship between water policy, management, and the natural ecosystem necessitating research on spatial and temporal dynamics of riparian vegetation. The San Acacia Reach of the Middle Rio Grande, a 60 mile stretch from the San Acacia Diversion Dam to San Marcial, has experienced multiple management and river flow fluctuations over the past 80 years, resulting in threats to riparian and aquatic ecosystems. This research was completed through the use and analysis of multi-source remote sensing data, GIS, and a review of the on-the-ground management decisions to better understand how the location and composition of the riparian vegetation has been affected by these shifting practices. This research focused on four phases, each highlighting different management practices and river flow patterns during the last 80-years. Each of these periods provides a unique opportunity to observe a direct relationship between river management and riparian land cover response and change. Overall, management practices reduced surface river flows and limited overbank flooding and resulted in changes in the composition, density, and spatial patterns of the vegetation, including increased non-native vegetation growth. Restoration efforts over the past few decades have begun to reduce the presence of non-native species. Despite these changes, this ecosystem was shown to be extremely resilient in maintaining its function/service throughout the entire study time frame.
Degree ProgramGraduate College