Ecology, Management and Restoration of Great Basin Meadow Ecosystems
Topics and EcosystemsTopics:
Ecology, Management and Restoration of Riparian Ecosystems
In the central Great Basin, meadow complexes, or areas with shallow water tables that are dominated largely by grasses and carices, are at especially high risk of degradation. They often occur in hydrologic and geomorphic settings that are susceptible to stream incision. Stream incision usually results in a drop in the base level for groundwater discharge and, consequently, deeper water tables. Because riparian vegetation depends on elevated water tables, major changes in the structure and composition of meadow ecosystems are occurring. For example, encroachment of upland shrubs and trees has resulted in a net loss of meadow vegetation. This project is examining (1) the factors affecting the sensitivity or, conversely, resistance of streams and their associated meadow complexes to stream incision, and (2) the underlying geomorphic, hydrologic and biotic processes related to meadow degradation. It is using this process based understanding to develop management and treatment options for these important ecosystems. Focal areas of the project include:
- evaluate the geomorphic and hydrologic controls on Great Basin meadow complexes;
- examine the geomorphic, hydrologic and vegetation processes that affect watershed and meadow sustainability;
- provide information on the factors needed to evaluate sensitivity to disturbance for both watersheds and meadow complexes;
- evaluate the value of biodiversity indicators for aquatic and terrestrial macro-invertebrates for evaluating restoration outcomes and ecological conditions of meadows and their associated stream systems;
- develop a characterization of meadow complexes that exist within central Great Basin watersheds based on watershed and valley segment/reach scale attributes;
- provide methods for maintaining or restoring the stream systems and vegetation communities associated with riparian meadows.
A US Forest Service, General Technical Report that details each of these areas is in press and several manuscripts are in process. A data archive on several project components is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/data_archive/.
|Chambers, Jeanne C||Research Ecologist||775-784-5329|