This report summarizes vegetation and substrate properties of aeolian landscapes in the Colorado River corridor through Grand Canyon, Arizona, in Grand Canyon National Park. Characterizing these parameters provides a basis from which to assess future changes in this ecosystem, including the spread of nonnative plant species. Differences are apparent between aeolian dune fields that are downwind of where modern controlled flooding deposits new sandbars (modern-fluvial-sourced dune fields) and those that have received little or no new windblown sand since river regulation began in the 1960s (relict-fluvial-sourced dune fields). The most substantial difference between modern- and relict-fluvial-sourced aeolian dune fields is the greater abundance of biologic soil crust in relict dune fields. These findings can be used with similar investigations in other geomorphic settings in Grand Canyon and elsewhere in the Colorado River corridor to evaluate the health of the Colorado River ecosystem over time.
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USGS Numbered Series
Vegetation and substrate properties of aeolian dune fields in the Colorado River corridor, Grand Canyon, Arizona