Architecture and Planning ETDs

Abstract

Anthropogenic alterations of hydro geomorphological conditions of the Rio Grande River have changed the processes that have created the mosaic of riparian habitats valuable for ecosystem functioning, wildlife, and enjoyment by residents. These changes have created conditions that have increased the frequency of historically unprecedented disturbances such as fire and aggressive invasion of exotic species. Restoration activities and planning efforts have begun to reverse these effects, yet large areas of the Middle Rio Grande State Park, commonly called the Bosque, are still being affected by ecosystem changes. Studies of the Rio Grande and other Riparian corridors suggest that lack of overbank stream flows, reduced channel mobility, and disconnection of the river hydrology from floodplain hydrology are causing senescence of cottonwood forests and other riparian plant communities. The objective of this research is to create and execute a methodology that can quantify the statistical distribution of plant species within the Bosque relative to elevation (species elevational distributions). This is necessary to identify whether a community/population is in decline/expanding, through age determination of new stands surveyed in the field relative to their elevational distribution. Ultimately this paper seeks to find a methodology to discern the realized niche of plant communities at specific sites within the Bosque that can be statistically quantified and spatially mapped in GIS to guide site plans and restoration activities. This methodology seeks to addresses the question of what specific areas would be appropriate for upland or riparian community restoration, as well as determining the most ecologically effective way to implement restoration in terms of agency goals.

Project Sponsors

William Fleming, Moises Gonzales, Timothy Lowrey

Language

English

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Community and Regional Planning

Level of Degree

Masters

Department Name

School of Architecture and Planning

First Committee Member (Chair)

William Fleming

Second Committee Member

Timothy Lowrey

Third Committee Member

Moises Gonzales

Keywords

Riparian, ecology, resoration, GIS

Included in

Architecture Commons

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