Rivers, dams, and willow flycatchers: A summary of their science and policy connections

William L. Graf, Juliet Stromberg, Brad Valentine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) is a riparian bird that spends winter months in Central and South America and summer breeding months in riparian zones of the American Southwest. Decline of the willow flycatcher population to less than 1000 breeding pairs prompted the Federal government to declare the species endangered, triggering a major recovery effort. The most important aspect of recovery is management and improvement of the riparian habitat of the bird population. Although the direct management of the species is primarily a biological issue, fluvial hydrology and geomorphology play an important role in understanding the dynamics of the present bird population and in designing a recovery plan because these physical systems are the substrates for the living communities which include the birds. Contributions of geomorphology and hydrology to the recovery plan include the use of watersheds and river basins as planning and evaluation units; understanding the connections between fluvial forms and riparian vegetation; implications for the bird population of the magnitude, frequency, duration, timing, and rate of change for various river discharges. The installation and operation of dams are the most important causes of hydro-geomorphic and ecological change in the region, so that management of these structures offers primary opportunities to improve the physical and biological conditions for the endangered species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-188
Number of pages20
JournalGeomorphology
Volume47
Issue number2-4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 9 2002

Keywords

  • Endangered species
  • Fluvial geomorphology
  • Impacts of dams
  • Riparian habitat
  • Southwestern willow flycatcher

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth-Surface Processes

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