Presentation Type

Presentation

Faculty Mentor’s Full Name

Cara Nelson

Faculty Mentor’s Department

Ecosystem Science and Restoration

Abstract

Reference models are critical to ecological restoration because they allow managers to understand the condition the project site would have been in if degradation had not occurred, to develop and communicate a shared vision of project targets, and serve as the building blocks for developing treatment plans. However, despite their importance, many restoration projects do not include information on reference conditions or include data from only a single or limited number of reference sites. We are proposing to create a reference model that can be used to evaluate riparian vegetation restoration after the removal of a dam on Rattlesnake Creek (Missoula, Montana). Specifically, we will identify streams that are environmentally similar to Rattlesnake Creek but have no to minimal degradation and look at the naturally occurring vegetation on Rattlesnake Creek at several undisturbed locations. At each of these “reference sites”, we will collect data on percent cover of vegetation adjacent to the stream. We will use the vegetation data to calculate mean reference conditions for common species composition and structure. In addition, we will conduct power analyses to determine the precision of our estimates, as well the number of sites that would need to be included in the model to achieve the desired level of precision. After data analysis, we will present our findings to the community for consideration for guiding revegetation in the area in which the dam is removed. Our proposed project will contribute to restoration success on Rattlesnake Creek, as well as increase Missoula residents’ excitement and knowledge about restoration. In addition, our results can be used as a guide for developing reference models for future dam removals or other restoration projects throughout the western US.

Category

Physical Sciences

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Developing a Reference Model to Evaluate for Riparian Restoration after the Removal of Rattlesnake Dam

Reference models are critical to ecological restoration because they allow managers to understand the condition the project site would have been in if degradation had not occurred, to develop and communicate a shared vision of project targets, and serve as the building blocks for developing treatment plans. However, despite their importance, many restoration projects do not include information on reference conditions or include data from only a single or limited number of reference sites. We are proposing to create a reference model that can be used to evaluate riparian vegetation restoration after the removal of a dam on Rattlesnake Creek (Missoula, Montana). Specifically, we will identify streams that are environmentally similar to Rattlesnake Creek but have no to minimal degradation and look at the naturally occurring vegetation on Rattlesnake Creek at several undisturbed locations. At each of these “reference sites”, we will collect data on percent cover of vegetation adjacent to the stream. We will use the vegetation data to calculate mean reference conditions for common species composition and structure. In addition, we will conduct power analyses to determine the precision of our estimates, as well the number of sites that would need to be included in the model to achieve the desired level of precision. After data analysis, we will present our findings to the community for consideration for guiding revegetation in the area in which the dam is removed. Our proposed project will contribute to restoration success on Rattlesnake Creek, as well as increase Missoula residents’ excitement and knowledge about restoration. In addition, our results can be used as a guide for developing reference models for future dam removals or other restoration projects throughout the western US.