MS Environmental Biology
Thesis - Open Access
Number of Pages
Historically, salmon have provided essential marine nutrients to land-locked habitats during their spawning migration. Many plant and animal species are dependent on this source of nutrients for survival and growth, and their absence has been shown to dramatically alter these terrestrial communities. Dams have been built throughout much of the historic range of salmon, cutting terrestrial ecosystems off from the flow of marine nutrients they depend on, leading to degradation of wetland habitats and reduced predator abundance. With time, however, concern for the decreased salmon abundance has resulted in organized efforts to remove dams in historically important salmon spawning areas, but the effects of removal on stream-associated ecosystems remain unknown.
The Rogue River in southern Oregon offers a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of salmon reintroduction on surrounding herbaceous vegetation since it has had eight dams removed since 2003, but also has remaining dammed portions that can serve as controls. I predict that herbaceous plant species richness and above-ground biomass will increase in areas where salmon are reintroduced compared to areas where the rivers remain dammed. By comparing herbaceous vegetation richness and biomass along two tributary streams where salmon have been reintroduced to two tributary streams where dams remain, I will be able to investigate differences in community structure and determine if salmon reintroduction has had positive impacts on formally degraded habitats. Wetlands, such as those surrounding tributary streams, provide 14 essential habitat for numerous plant, bird, and insect species, and their health is imperative to maintaining surrounding ecosystems that are functional and productive
Date of Award
© Kelsey Morrison
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Morrison, Kelsey, "MS Environmental Biology Capstone Project" (2018). Regis University Student Publications. 881.