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Climate change, cranes, and temperate floodplain ecosystems

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Abstract

Floodplain ecosystems provide important habitat to cranes globally. Lateral, longitudinal, vertical, and temporal hydrologic connectivity in rivers is essential to maintaining the functions and values of these systems. Agricultural development, flood control, water diversions, dams, and other anthropogenic activities have greatly affected hydrologic connectivity of river systems worldwide and altered the functional capacity of these systems. Although the specific effects of climate change in any given area are unknown, increased intensity and frequency of flooding and droughts and increased air and water temperatures are among many potential effects that can act synergistically with existing human modifications in these systems to create even greater challenges in maintaining ecosystem productivity. In this paper, I review basic hydrologic and geomorphic processes of river systems and use three North American rivers (Guadalupe, Platte, and Rio Grande) that are important to cranes as case studies to illustrate the challenges facing managers tasked with balancing the needs of cranes and people in the face of an uncertain climatic future. Each river system has unique natural and anthropogenic characteristics that will affect conservation strategies. Mitigating the effects of climate change on river systems necessitates an understanding of river/floodplain/landscape linkages, which include people and their laws as well as existing floodplain ecosystem conditions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Title Climate change, cranes, and temperate floodplain ecosystems
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher International Crane Foundation
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 7 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Conference publication
Larger Work Title Cranes, agriculture, and climate change
First page 28
Last page 34
Conference Location Baraboo, WI
Conference Date May 28 - June 2, 2010