Short-Term Effects of Annual Flooding on a Population of Peromyscus Leucopus in a Rio Grande Riparian Forest of Central New Mexico

By Ellis, Lisa M.; Molles, Manuel C., Jr. et al. | The American Midland Naturalist, October 1997 | Go to article overview

Short-Term Effects of Annual Flooding on a Population of Peromyscus Leucopus in a Rio Grande Riparian Forest of Central New Mexico


Ellis, Lisa M., Molles, Manuel C., Jr., Crawford, Clifford S., The American Midland Naturalist


LISA M. ELLIS,1 MANUEL C. MOLLES, JR. AND CLIFFORD S. CRAWFORD

ABSTRACT.-We studied the short-term effects of experimental flooding on a population of Peromyscus leucopus in a Rio Grande riparian forest that had not flooded for over 50 y. We monitored populations at two sites for 2 yr before flooding and then for 3 yr during which we flooded one site between mid-May and mid-June each year. Considerable interannual variation in density was detected at both sites, with no clear effect of flooding on density. Some mice stayed within the forest during flooding and used trees as refugia. Survivorship decreased slightly at the flood site after the first flood but did not differ from the reference site 2 mo after flooding that year, nor in the final year. There was no difference between sites in recruitment of new individuals.

INTRODUCTION

Disturbance plays an integral role in establishing and maintaining southwestern riparian ecosystems, and flooding is the most common natural disturbance in these systems (Szaro, 1991). Although large river floodplains have been considered unstable or temporary habitats for small mammal populations due to the influence of such disturbances (Batzli,1977), Peromyscus spp. are common in floodplain forests throughout the United States, especially where flooding occurs (e.g., Stickel, 1948; Wetzel, 1958; Ruffer, 1961; Blem and Blem,1975). Several studies have reported no negative effects of flooding on Peromyscus populations (Stickel, 1948; Wetzel, 1958; Blem and Blem, 1975), and both the climbing (Horner, 1954; Kaufman et al., 1985) and swimming (Teeters, 1945; Ruffer, 1961; Sheppe, 1965) skills of this species are well-documented. Other studies, however, report decreased population densities after extensive flooding (Blair, 1939; McCarley, 1959; Turner, 1966).

Peromyscus leucopus is the most common rodent in cottonwood forests along the Middle Rio Grande in central New Mexico (Hink and Ohmart, 1984; Ellis et al., 1997). Historically the Rio Grande often flooded its riparian forest, but dam construction in the upper basin has prevented most flooding in recent decades (Crawford et al., 1996), and thus current populations of P leucopus have not experienced flooding for many generations. While P leucopus occurs throughout a variety of habitat types in New Mexico (Findley et al., 1975), in the riparian forest it provides an important food source for predaceous vertebrates and thus its persistence there is vital to energy flow in the riparian ecosystem.

The elimination of flooding, combined with other water management practices, has greatly altered the ecology of the Rio Grande floodplain, including considerable loss of riparian vegetation (Crawford et al., 1996). Therefore, in 1991 we began a long-term study to assess ecosystem- and population-level responses to reintroducing annual flooding to a riparian forest that had remained unflooded for over 50 yr. Our objectives in this paper are to determine short-term effects of reintroducing flooding on a population of P leucopus, selected as a key consumer group in the riparian ecosystem. Specifically, we compare (1) density, (2) survivorship, and (3) recruitment of P leucopus in flooded and nonflooded sites. Such population data will help determine the feasibility of using this as a management technique for riparian forest restoration.

METHODS

Study sites.-Two 3.1-ha study sites were established in the summer of 1991 as part of a long-term ecosystem study at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, located ca. 5 km S of San Antonio, Socorro County, New Mexico. Sites were in mixed cottonwood forest and included a canopy dominated by medium-to-large Rio Grande cottonwood [Populus deltoides var. wislizenii (Wats.) Eckenwalder], with a subcanopy of Goodding willow (Salix gooddingii Ball.) and saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima Ledeb.). The understory included seepwillow (Baccharis glutinosa Pers.), New Mexico olive (Forestiera neomexicana Gray), low densities of other shrubs, and a patchy herbaceous layer. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Short-Term Effects of Annual Flooding on a Population of Peromyscus Leucopus in a Rio Grande Riparian Forest of Central New Mexico
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.