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Small mammals within riparian habitats of a regulated and unregulated aridland river

January 1, 2003

In northwestern Colorado, flow regulation on the Green River has created a transitional plant community that features encroachment by upland vegetation into cottonwood (Populus fremontii)-dominated, riparian forest on topographically high floodplain sites and reduced cottonwood regeneration on low floodplain sites. To assess how these changes might have affected small mammal distributions, in 1994 and 1995 we live-trapped during periods surrounding spring flooding at 3 sites: above and below the confluence of the regulated Green River and at the ecologically similar, but unregulated, Yampa River (reference site). More species were captured at the most regulated site along the Green River above its confluence with the Yampa River. Within sites, more species were captured in riparian habitats than adjacent upland habitats. Despite river regulation-induced habitat changes, we did not detect changes in species distributions within low and high floodplain habitat for Peromyscus maniculatus or Microtus montanus, but changes may have occurred for Dipodomys ordii. The total effect of regulation-induced habitat change on small mammal populations may not be fully revealed until current, mature cottonwood forests disappear and associated woody debris decomposes.

Publication Year 2003
Title Small mammals within riparian habitats of a regulated and unregulated aridland river
Authors M.J. Falck, K.R. Wilson, D.C. Andersen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Western North American Naturalist
Index ID 1015339
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center