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Land 2017, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/land6020029

Historical Analysis of Riparian Vegetation Change in Response to Shifting Management Objectives on the Middle Rio Grande

1
School of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
2
Western Geographic Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
3
School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
4
Western Geographic Science Center, United States Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
5
United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Albuquerque, NM 87102, USA
6
Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 March 2017 / Revised: 11 April 2017 / Accepted: 18 April 2017 / Published: 22 April 2017
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Abstract

Riparian ecosystems are valuable to the ecological and human communities that depend on them. Over the past century, they have been subject to shifting management practices to maximize human use and ecosystem services, creating a complex relationship between water policy, management, and the natural ecosystem. This has necessitated research on the spatial and temporal dynamics of riparian vegetation change. The San Acacia Reach of the Middle Rio Grande has experienced multiple management and river flow fluctuations, resulting in threats to its riparian and aquatic ecosystems. This research uses remote sensing data, GIS, a review of management decisions, and an assessment of climate to both quantify how riparian vegetation has been altered over time and provide interpretations of the relationships between riparian change and shifting climate and management objectives. This research focused on four management phases from 1935 to 2014, each highlighting different management practices and climate-driven river patterns, providing unique opportunities to observe a direct relationship between river management, climate, and riparian response. Overall, we believe that management practices coupled with reduced surface river-flows with limited overbank flooding influenced the compositional and spatial patterns of vegetation, including possibly increasing non-native vegetation coverage. However, recent restoration efforts have begun to reduce non-native vegetation coverage. View Full-Text
Keywords: riparian ecosystems; remote sensing; climate fluctuation; land cover change; river management riparian ecosystems; remote sensing; climate fluctuation; land cover change; river management
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Petrakis, R.E.; van Leeuwen, W.J.; Villarreal, M.L.; Tashjian, P.; Dello Russo, R.; Scott, C.A. Historical Analysis of Riparian Vegetation Change in Response to Shifting Management Objectives on the Middle Rio Grande. Land 2017, 6, 29.

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