Hydrology, vegetation and waterbird response to land management strategies in the San Luis Valley
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The distribution of wetlands in the San Luis Valley has been altered by human modifications that influence the timing, distribution and characteristics of wetland environments available to wetland dependent species. I examined the hydrologic regime, vegetation community composition and structure and waterbird use of seasonal wet meadow and temporary playa wetlands located on public and private land subject to idle, grazing and haying land management practices. Results indicated that wetlands located on public land contained water earlier and for longer durations than private land. Although vegetation community composition was similar across analogous habitat types, seasonal wet meadow public-idle sites maintained greater vegetation cover and vertical density than private sites, while temporary playa sites showed similar vegetation characteristics across land management practices. Overall, most waterbirds were observed during May. Waterbird use of study sites was highly variable across time, wetland type and land management practice with dabbling ducks more frequently observed on seasonal wet meadow public-idle sites and shorebirds on temporary playa private-grazed sites. Recognizing how different ownership and land management practices influence wetland distribution and quality is critical in establishing the appropriate habitat based goals and objectives to meet conservation needs.
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