Monday, November 17, 2008

Aravaipa Canyon: Search and Destroy the Mother Tamarix

The objective of this project was to survey and map the extent of the invasive genus Tamarix (Salt Cedar, Tamarisk) in Aravaipa Canyon, a federally-designated wilderness area in AZ managed by BLM. Aravaipa canyon, if it were not a wilderness area, would make a great National Park, with its lush riparian forest surrounded by pinon-juniper woodland grading to Saguaro cacti. After a large flood in 2002, the streambed morphology and vegetation structure of the canyon were radically altered, opening room for recruitment of non-native Tamarix, in addition to naturally occuring cottonwood and willow.

Building upon previous volunteer efforts, I spent a week in the canyon taking notes on the prevalence, preferred-habitat, age-class, and GPS location of Tamarix colonies. I was able to identify pre-flood "mother" Tamarix that were responsible for seeding in new colonies. Based upon the distribution of old and new individuals, it is possible to get some idea of the rate and extent of this invasion. These data are arailable upon request.

A mother Tamarix.

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