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Potential effects of climate change on riparian areas, wetlands, and groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the Blue Mountains, Oregon, USA

Posted date: April 05, 2019
Publication Year: 
2018
Authors: Dwire, Kathleen A.; Mellmann-Brown, Sabine; Gurrieri, Joseph T.
Publication Series: 
Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Source: Climate Services. 10: 44-52.

Abstract

Riparian areas, wetlands, and groundwater-dependent ecosystems, which are found at all elevations throughout the Blue Mountains, comprise a small portion of the landscape but have high conservation value because they provide habitat for diverse flora and fauna. The effects of climate change on these special habitats may be especially profound, due to altered snowpack and hydrologic regimes predicted to occur in the near future. The functionality of many riparian areas is currently compromised by water diversions and livestock grazing, which reduces their resilience to additional stresses that a warmer climate may bring. Areas associated with springs and small streams will probably experience near-term changes, and some riparian areas and wetlands may decrease in size over time. A warmer climate and reduced soil moisture could lead to a transition from riparian hardwood species to more drought tolerant conifers and shrubs. Increased frequency and spatial extent of wildfire spreading from upland forests could also affect riparian species composition. The specific effects of climate change will vary, depending on local hydrology (especially groundwater), topography, streamside microclimates, and current conditions and land use.

Citation

Dwire, Kathleen A.; Mellmann-Brown, Sabine; Gurrieri, Joseph T. 2018. Potential effects of climate change on riparian areas, wetlands, and groundwater-dependent ecosystems in the Blue Mountains, Oregon, USA. Climate Services. 10: 44-52.