HYDROLOGIC CONNECTIVITY OF NATIVE RIPARIAN FORESTS ALONG THE MIDDLE RIO GRANDE, NEW MEXICO S.F. Gray, J.F. Schuetz, and M.C. Molles, Jr. Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131. Abstract
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ALONG THE MIDDLE RIO GRANDE, NEW MEXICO
S.F. Gray, J.F. Schuetz, and M.C. Molles, Jr.
Department of Biology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131
The native riparian ecosystem of the Middle Rio Grande in New Mexico is in decline and is aging. This riparian forest, or bosque, is dependent on the annual flood pulse that in the past 50 years has been nearly eliminated by dams, diversions and drought. We are studying the difference in hydrologic connectivity between four flood sties and four nonflood sites within a 160 km stretch of the middle Rio Grande from Cochiti Dam to the Elephant Butte Reservoir. These hydrologic factors include river levels, groundwater depth and soil moisture. The relationship among these factors will help us understand hydrologic differences in flood and nonflood sites and what is critical in maintaining the native riparian ecosystem. Results from this study will be used to help inform policy makers on potential tool such as managed floods that could be used to restore the native bosque of the Middle Rio Grande.
Groundwater depths were significantly higher at flood sites than nonflood sites in 2001 (p=0.001) and 2002 (p=0.032)
View of Rio Grande under normal flow conditions
water table depths
Ellis L.M., Crawford C.S. and M.C. Molles Jr.. 2002.The role of the flood pulse in ecosystem-level processes in southwestern riparian forests: a case study from the Middle Rio Grande.Flood pulsing in wetlands: restoring the natural hydrological balance, p. 51.
Ellis L.M., Molles M.C., Jr., and C.S. Crawford. 1996. Seasonal flooding and riparian forest restoration in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. Final report, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, District 2, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Junk, W.L., Bayley P.B. and R.E. Sparks. 1989. The flood pulse concept in river-floodplain systems, p.110-127. In D.P. Dodge Proceedings of the International Large River Symposium. Can. Spec. Publ. Fish. Aquat.Sci. 106.
Obtaining soil moisture readings
UNM Hydrogeoecology Group
NSF Grant DEB-9903973
Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge
City of Albuquerque Open Space Division
New Mexico State Land Office
Rio Grande Nature Center
Belen Consolidated Schools
Samuel F. Gray 505-277-5732 [email protected]
Jennifer F. Schuetz 505-277-5732 [email protected]
Manuel C. Molles, Jr. 505-277-3050 [email protected]
Dry river bed of the Rio Grande at Bosque del Apache 7/17/02