Event Title

A Preliminary Traits Database for Southwest Riparian Plant Species: Information for Modeling, Monitoring, Research, and Restoration

Presenter Information

Emily Palmquist

Location

Ellen Eccles Conference Center

Event Website

https://forestry.usu.edu/htm/video/conferences/restoring-the-west-conference-2014/

Abstract

1: US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, Arizona

2: US Forest Service, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air, and Rare Plants, Fort Collins, Colorado

Riparian plant species distributions are largely shaped by their ability to withstand, avoid, or take advantage of fluvial processes and the strong environmental gradients they create. All research on and management of riparian ecosystems benefits from quantitative information about the physiological and morphological traits of riparian plants that control where on the riparian landscape each species can exist. Although the USDA PLANTS database contains information on many species, there are information gaps for common western riparian species, such as Tamarix spp., Baccharis emoryi, Equisetum hymale, Pluchea sericea, and Prosopis glandulosa, as well as less common, but important, components of the riparian flora such as Baccharis sergiloides, Schoenoplectus americanus, Isocoma acradenia, and Alhagi maurorum. Additionally, PLANTS does not include all traits that are useful for managing riparian ecosystems, such a species ability to reproduce vegetatively, maximum rooting depth, and phenology. These information gaps hinder efficient and effective research, modeling, and restoration of major river systems in the west, including the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.

In order to address these data gaps, we have compiled a traits database for plant species recorded along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon during riparian sampling in 2012 and 2013. We utilized information available on the PLANTS database, in published literature, and in reports. When published traits information did not exist, we consulted with regional riparian botanists to gain their professional judgment of traits values. We started with over 20 traits and then analyzed our traits dataset for colinearity and redundancy, resulting in a final dataset of nine physiological and morphological traits for each of 114 southwestern riparian plant species. We selected traits we considered important to growth in an aridland riparian environment subject to river regulations, but that are applicable to many riparian areas throughout the West: anaerobic tolerance, drought tolerance, salinity tolerance, shade tolerance, bloom period, height at maturity, minimum root depth, ability to reproduce vegetatively, and seed size. These data can be used to inform vegetation response models, plan restoration projects, conduct research on patterns and distributions of species traits within a riparian system, and more. The database will continue to be modified and updated as more quantitative data become available and as new species are added. Currently, published quantitative data are limited for many species, so expert opinion has been used to fill in some gaps. Ideally, the information from experts will be confirmed or replaced by quantitative data in the future. Ultimately, we intend for this database to be a public resource.

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Oct 21st, 9:10 AM Oct 21st, 9:20 AM

A Preliminary Traits Database for Southwest Riparian Plant Species: Information for Modeling, Monitoring, Research, and Restoration

Ellen Eccles Conference Center

1: US Geological Survey, Southwest Biological Science Center, Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center, Flagstaff, Arizona

2: US Forest Service, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air, and Rare Plants, Fort Collins, Colorado

Riparian plant species distributions are largely shaped by their ability to withstand, avoid, or take advantage of fluvial processes and the strong environmental gradients they create. All research on and management of riparian ecosystems benefits from quantitative information about the physiological and morphological traits of riparian plants that control where on the riparian landscape each species can exist. Although the USDA PLANTS database contains information on many species, there are information gaps for common western riparian species, such as Tamarix spp., Baccharis emoryi, Equisetum hymale, Pluchea sericea, and Prosopis glandulosa, as well as less common, but important, components of the riparian flora such as Baccharis sergiloides, Schoenoplectus americanus, Isocoma acradenia, and Alhagi maurorum. Additionally, PLANTS does not include all traits that are useful for managing riparian ecosystems, such a species ability to reproduce vegetatively, maximum rooting depth, and phenology. These information gaps hinder efficient and effective research, modeling, and restoration of major river systems in the west, including the Colorado River through Grand Canyon.

In order to address these data gaps, we have compiled a traits database for plant species recorded along the Colorado River through Grand Canyon during riparian sampling in 2012 and 2013. We utilized information available on the PLANTS database, in published literature, and in reports. When published traits information did not exist, we consulted with regional riparian botanists to gain their professional judgment of traits values. We started with over 20 traits and then analyzed our traits dataset for colinearity and redundancy, resulting in a final dataset of nine physiological and morphological traits for each of 114 southwestern riparian plant species. We selected traits we considered important to growth in an aridland riparian environment subject to river regulations, but that are applicable to many riparian areas throughout the West: anaerobic tolerance, drought tolerance, salinity tolerance, shade tolerance, bloom period, height at maturity, minimum root depth, ability to reproduce vegetatively, and seed size. These data can be used to inform vegetation response models, plan restoration projects, conduct research on patterns and distributions of species traits within a riparian system, and more. The database will continue to be modified and updated as more quantitative data become available and as new species are added. Currently, published quantitative data are limited for many species, so expert opinion has been used to fill in some gaps. Ideally, the information from experts will be confirmed or replaced by quantitative data in the future. Ultimately, we intend for this database to be a public resource.

http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/rtw/2014/Posters/10