Climate change projections for semiarid and arid North America include reductions in stream discharge that could adversely affect riparian plant species dependent on stream-derived ground water. In order to better understand this potential impact, we used a space-for-time substitution to test the hypotheses that increasing depth-to-groundwater (DGW) is inversely related to Tamarix sp. (saltcedar) flower abundance (F) and nectar production per flower (N). We also assessed whether DGW affected the richness or abundance of insects visiting flowers. We examined Tamarix floral attributes and insect visitation patterns during 2010 and 2011 at three locations along a deep DWG gradient (3.2–4.1 m) on a floodplain terrace adjacent to Las Vegas Wash, an effluent-dominated Mojave Desert stream. Flower abundance and insect visitation patterns differed between years, but no effect from DGW on either F or N was detected. An eruption of a novel non-native herbivore, the splendid tamarisk weevil (Coniatus splendidulus), likely reduced flower production in 2011.
Additional publication details
Floral ecology and insect visitation in riparian Tamarix sp. (saltcedar)