UNDERSTANDING AND ASSESSING WATERSHED RESILIENCE TO DISTURBANCE

Author: 
Miller, Jerry R.
Publisher: 
Society for Range Management
Publication Year: 
2018
Description: 
Developing effective management strategies for wet meadow and riparian ecosystems begins with an understanding of watershed resilience to disturbance. Late Holocene geomorphic and stratigraphic data collected from upland watersheds in central Nevada reveal that natural and anthropogenic disturbances during the past several centuries have led to two primary types of geomorphic response: channel incision and channel avulsion. Both can have significant detrimental effects on wet meadow and riparian ecosystems by lowering groundwater levels and altering the distribution, composition, and diversity of the existing vegetation. Our earlier geomorphic and hydrologic investigations of more than�50 upland�watersheds in the Great Basin demonstrated that these�catchments respond differently to external perturbations, and are characterized by different degrees of resilience to these disturbances. The most sensitive (dynamic) systems are characterized by basin traits that (1) promote� rapid, high magnitude flood flows, (2) generate relatively fine-grained channel bed material and (3) have large quantities of highly mobile sediment. A hierarchical analysis of these and other watershed traits allowed for the classification of the basins into four primary groups of basin sensitivity/resilience. Work conducted during the past year is expanding the initial classification developed for central Nevada and applying it to other areas of the Great Basin. Ultimately, the ability to identify a basin�s sensitivity to disturbance provides land managers with a powerful tool for managing land use.� Moreover, the classification scheme provides insights into the potential success of restoration programs for channels characterized by different types of geomorphic processes and response rates.
Conference Name: 
SRM Reno, NV
Conference Date: 
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Resource Type: 
Text
Document Type: 
Conference Proceedings
Society for Range Management

A collection of presentation titles and abstracts from the SRM Annual Meeting and Tradeshows