OOS 45 - Toward a Sustainable Future for the Middle Rio Grande Ecosystem

Thursday, August 6, 2009: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Acoma/Zuni, Albuquerque Convention Center
Mary J. Harner, University of Nebraska—Kearney
Teresa M. Tibbets, University of Wyoming; and Jennifer J. Follstad Shah, Duke University
Mary J. Harner, University of Nebraska—Kearney
The Middle Rio Grande (MRG) in central New Mexico, USA, has sustained human civilizations in an arid landscape for thousands of years. While the MRG has supported irrigated agriculture for hundreds of years, wide-spread alterations to the river’s morphology and flows have occurred during the 20th century. Demands for water have increased dramatically to support agriculture, industry, and drinking water supplies. For example, Albuquerque, which is located on the MRG, is currently the 6th fastest growing city in the US. The city historically relied on the aquifer for drinking water, but depletions have made this unsustainable, and now Albuquerque obtains drinking water diverted from the San Juan and Chama Rivers. Along with changes in availability of water, there is rising concern about water quality, as increasing proportions of the river’s base flow come from return flows of waste-water treatment facilities. The over-appropriation of water in the face of potential reductions in river flow due to climate change could exacerbate these issues. The surrounding floodplain forest, locally known as the bosque, has also undergone dramatic changes over the last century. Historically dominated by a mosaic of wetland and forested habitats, riparian areas are now dominated by senescent cottonwood forests and dense stands of non-native trees, notably salt cedar and Russian olive. As densities of invasive species increase, managers have become concerned about effects on water use and contributions to fuel loads for wildfires. The river and riparian ecosystems provide a life line of critical habitats through the center of an otherwise arid environment. Species dependent on these habitats and services provided by the ecosystem are at risk, as demands for water and encroachment on habitat continue as the human population increases. This session will focus on prospects for long-term ecosystem sustainability in the MRG. The session will open with an historical overview of research conducted along the river. This will be followed by talks about ecosystem monitoring, water quality, aquatic food webs, threatened and endangered species, invasive species, restoration projects, and effects of climate change on water availability. The session will conclude with a panel discussion or presentation that focuses on how we can apply this collective knowledge to sustain services that the river provides, such as availability of high-quality water, support of wildlife habitat, and provision of aesthetic and cultural resources.
1:30 PM
 Historical overview of Middle Rio Grande research: Informing conservation and restoration of a large river-riparian ecosystem
Manuel C. Molles, University of New Mexico; Clifford S. Crawford, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, University of New Mexico; Lisa M. Ellis, University of New Mexico; Clifford N. Dahm, University of New Mexico; H. Maurice Valett, University of Montana; Carleton White, University of New Mexico
1:50 PM
 Synthesis of long-term ecological monitoring data from multiple sites along the Middle Rio Grande from 1997-2008
Kim D. Eichhorst, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, University of New Mexico; Jennifer Schuetz, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, University of New Mexico; Clifford S. Crawford, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, University of New Mexico
2:10 PM
 Flood regime versus plant species effects on soil N cycling in semiarid riparian forests
Jennifer J. Follstad Shah, Duke University; Mary J. Harner, University of Nebraska—Kearney; Teresa M. Tibbets, University of Wyoming; Clifford N. Dahm, University of New Mexico; Robert Sinsabaugh, University of New Mexico
2:30 PM
 Sustainability of riparian forests: Responses of cottonwoods to natural and anthropogenic disturbances along the Rio Grande, NM (USA)
Teresa M. Tibbets, University of Wyoming; Mary J. Harner, University of Nebraska—Kearney
2:50 PM
 Riparian forest response to control of non-native vegetation: Compositional shifts and individual and stand-level responses
David M. Merritt, US Forest Service Watershed, Fish, and Wildlife; J. Bradley Johnson, Colorado State University; Christopher Peltz, USFS Watershed, Fish, and Wildlife & CSU Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory NRRC
3:10 PM
3:20 PM
 Effects of river regulation on Rio Grande fish communities revealed by stable isotope analysis of historical and contemporary samples
Thomas F. Turner, University of New Mexico; Trevor J. Krabbenhoft, University of New Mexico; Michael L. Collyer, Stephen F. Austin State University; Melanie S. Edwards, University of New Mexico
3:40 PM
 Spatial and temporal variability in nutrient dynamics in the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico: The importance of an agricultural irrigation network for nutrient retention
David J. Van Horn, University of New Mexico; Lydia H. Zeglin, Department of Crop and Soil Science; Clifford N. Dahm, University of New Mexico
4:20 PM
 Floristic composition, beta diversity and nestedness of reference sites for restoration of xeric riparian areas
Vanessa B. Beauchamp, Towson University; Patrick B. Shafroth, US Geological Survey
4:40 PM
 Nutrient and water quality influences on algal biomass and community composition in an aridland river
Rebecca J. Bixby, University of New Mexico; Ayesha S. Burdett, University of New Mexico
See more of: Organized Oral Session
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