Restoration of riparian wildlife habitat in the middle Rio Grande Valley following historical river hydrographs



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Texas Tech University


Native cottonwood-willow (Populus spp.- Salix spp.) riparian forests are important in maintaining regional biodiversity in the semi-arid and arid southwestern United States. Though these areas comprise only a small proportion of the landscape compared to adjacent upland areas, they support a greater diversity of vertebrate species. Declines in native riparian woodlands have resulted in an intensified effort to develop ways to restore these habitats. Degradation of native riparian habitat has resulted from changes in river hydrology and the introduction of saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima). an exotic woody shrub. Saltcedar is well adapted to the altered hydrology of many southwestern rivers and has replaced native vegetation. Saltcedar woodlands are less valuable to most wildlife species compared to native vegetation. To successfully restore native woodlands in southwestern riparian areas, methods to control or remove existing saltcedar must be developed in conjunction with methods to restore native woody species.



Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (N.M.), Riparian areas, Wildlife habitat improvement