First Advisor

Dr. Kristofor A. Voss

College

Regis College

Degree Name

MS Environmental Biology

Department (optional)

Biology

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

70 pages

Abstract

Land conversion across the Southwestern U.S. for agricultural and livestock use and prolonged drought conditions cascade to reduce ecosystem function, including habitat provision for wildlife. Arroyo restoration efforts aim to improve wildlife habitat by decreasing soil erosion and enhancing water retention. These hydrologic and geomorphic changes increase the likelihood that wildlife use restored corridors by increasing riparian vegetation cover. Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge (RMNWR) has restored several arroyos by installing a system of one-rock dams throughout the refuge, but the extent to which mammals prefer restored over unrestored riparian corridors and how habitat structure influences mammalian use and density in those corridors is unknown. To test whether arroyo restoration improves habitat for large mammals, we collected data on corridor morphology and vegetation structure in the vicinity of 30 camera traps along 10 corridors within the RMNWR. Habitat variability across camera traps was driven by corridor level differences in water availability, vegetation composition, and morphology, rather than restoration status. A total of fifteen species were recorded using two of the ten canyons. Mean species abundance differed only for three species that were found in one canyon versus another, while mean species occurrence showed a greater difference for nine of the fifteen species. Habitat structure effects tended to relate modestly to visitation rates.

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado

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