Dr. Amy Merrill and Zooey Diggory are presenting at this week’s Society of Ecological Restoration California (SERCAL) in Lake Tahoe on May 11-12. Zooey is presenting on Wednesday’s Desert Systems session on “Planning, Permitting, and Restoring Endangered Species Habitat and Resiliency on a Southwest River”. Dr. Amy Merrill will be presenting on Thursday in the Mountain Meadows Session on “Building the Scientific Foundation for a Carbon Sequestration Protocol for Mountain Meadow Restoration”. Abstracts and session times are provided below.
Zooey Diggory, Senior Plant Ecologist — Planning, Permitting, and Restoring Endangered Species Habitat and Resiliency on a Southwest River [May 11, Mono Lake/Desert Systems Session, 10:30-12:00]
The upper Gila River in southeast Arizona supports a relatively robust population of endangered southwestern willow flycatcher, despite the fact that flycatchers must now nest almost exclusively in nonnative, invasive tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) that now dominates the river’s riparian vegetation. The tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda elongata complex), which was released for biocontrol of tamarisk in the early 2000’s, is anticipated to arrive in the upper Gila River valley in the next few years and, as it has on other southwest rivers, result in the defoliation and mortality of most of the tamarisk and, along with it, much of the existing nesting habitat for the flycatcher. In 2012, an interdisciplinary science team began the development of a planning framework to identify high-priority areas for restoration of native nesting habitat that would be resilient to the effects of the beetle, promote natural recruitment of native riparian plants, and account for the biophysical factors that will most influence restoration success. Since that time, the highest priority areas have been permitted and implementation has begun. This presentation will provide an overview of the restoration framework and the considerations and methods used to identify restoration areas, describe the permitting process used for working within occupied habitat for an endangered species, and describe initial implementation results.
Dr. Amy Merrill, Senior Riparian Ecologist — Building the Scientific Foundation for a Carbon Sequestration Protocol for Mountain Meadow Restoration [May 12, Montane Meadows Session, 11:00-12:30]
Healthy mountain meadows provide many ecological benefits. Do they also sequester Carbon, resulting in a net reduction in GHG emissions? We present the first year of findings from a project with the sequential goals of measuring carbon sequestration in the field and then developing a meadow carbon protocol for the hydrologic restoration of degraded mountain meadows. Our team, the Sierra Meadow Restoration Research Partnership (SMRRP), includes ten partner institutions. We are employing a modified before-after, control-impact (BACI) design using seven impact (to be restored), seven control (to remain degraded), and four reference (‘ideal’ condition) meadows. The meadows range in location from the Upper Feather River to the Kern River Basins in the California Sierra Nevada. At all meadows, we use a common framework and set of field, laboratory, and data analysis protocols to populate a database on net soil C sequestration, including changes in soil carbon, NPP, and CO2, N2O and CH4 fluxes on the carbon-equivalent budget. We describe our research approach and present data on CO2, N2O, and CH4 fluxes from the first three seasons of field measurements. In addition, we present preliminary data on soil C storage (g/m2), aboveground plant biomass inputs (g/m2), biomass C:N ratios, and other ancillary measurements such as soil moisture and soil temperature. Furthermore, we describe our plans to use this growing body of data to build an empirical model of meadow C sequestration as part of a basis for a Sierra meadow carbon protocol for California.
Stillwater is a proud sponsor of this event. For more information, please visit SERCAL’s website.