Project Details

Description

The Verde River supports many species of wildlife, some of which, are very rare and rely entirely on riparian habitat. The Verde River has outstanding habitat value for a diverse community of terrestrial wildlife. According to Verde Wild and Scenic River Comprehensive River Management Plan (2004), there are 51 species of sensitive, threatened, or endangered wildlife species that occur or may occur along the Verde River corridor.

Stream flows and groundwater have been strongly linked to riparian plant communities (Merritt and Bateman 2012). These plant communities are predicted to shift in response to lower levels of groundwater; such that, areas with native riparian trees (cottonwood, Populus spp. and willow, Salix spp.) will likely be replaced by xero-riparian shrubs (saltcedar, Tamarix spp. and burrobush, Hymenoclea spp.) that can access water from precipitation if groundwater is unavailable (Stromberg et al., 2010; Merritt and Bateman 2012). Researchers have documented the importance of cottonwood and willow riparian forests for wildlife habitat and most attention has focused on avian species (Brand et al., 2011; Merritt and Bateman 2012, Fig. 1). However, native riparian forests are also important for providing leaf litter and woody debris used by amphibians and reptiles (Bateman et al., 2008). Riparian forests also provide upland aestivation and hibernation habitat for federally threatened gartersnake species (Thamnophis eques megalops; Emmons and Nowak 2013 unpubl.). Previous research in the Bateman lab has found that diverse riparian stands support greater abundances of reptiles compared to monotypic non-native stands.

Project Goals
Establish research sites in Use location data provided by hydrologic team that indicates a range of sites areas co-located with other research teams to quantify terrestrial wildlife habitat.
across a gradient of flows and hydrologic connectivity.
Quantify habitat heterogeneity that is critical for riparian bird species.
Quantify habitat heterogeneity that is critical for reptile species.
Summarize historical field studies, technical reports, and publications to describe the current terrestrial wildlife community.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date4/20/179/30/20

Funding

  • USDA: Forest Service (FS): $118,159.00

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