Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program:
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources


Effects of climate and habitat change on structure and function of a high priority montane ecosystem

April 2014 - March 2017


Participating Agencies

This research continues and extends long-term (29 years) study of climate effects on a human-natural ecosystem classified by the IPCC as a high priority and vulnerable ecosystem: a montane riparian system in the arid southwest. We are examining the causal mechanisms underlying change in ecosystem structure (species composition) and function (trophic interactions) in response to climate variation and elk browsing. The research includes estimation of the relative sensitivity of vegetation, bird, and mammal species to climate variation in order to project future responses and possible management alternatives. No other study in the world has annually detailed long-term population trajectories and demographic processes of such a full array of plant, bird, and small mammal species comprising an ecosystem to allow examination of climate influences on ecosystem structure and function