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Using Geospatial Analysis and Statistical Modeling to Identify Resilient Rivers for Wild & Scenic Designation in the Arizona/New Mexico Ecoregion

Authors: James Major*,
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Spatial Analysis & Modeling
Keywords: Wild and Scenic, resilience, ecoregions
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Accelerating climatic changes and increasing human demands for water resources are threatening ecosystem services provided by free-flowing rivers. Certain riverine ecosystems may remain resilient in the face of these threats by withstanding disturbance and rebounding to pre-disturbance condition and function. Therefore, identifying resilient rivers is important to managers and conservationists for the optimization of limited fiscal and human resources. The Nationwide Rivers Inventory catalogs over 3,200 rivers in the U.S. that are potentially eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System that protects free-flowing rivers and the ecosystem services they provide. In light of threats facing these riverine ecosystems, this research seeks to answer two questions; 1) What bio-physical indicators are predictive of general resilience of riverine ecosystem services in response to climate change and increasing human demand of water resources? 2) How does land use influence riverine ecosystem resilience in NRI rivers of the Arizona/New Mexico Mountain ecoregion? Modeling results using extant datasets as indicators of resilience, which then allowed for analysis of individual NRI stretches within the ecoregion are revealed in this paper. Methods for this study included assessing NRI segments in the ecoregion using the R statistical programming language and assigning a resilience rating to each segment. Results were mapped using ArcGIS and further spatial analysis was performed to better understand results and patterns found during this study. These findings are intended for use in decision-making for conservation policymaking and river resource governance.

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