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Nagler, PL, Glenn, EP, Hinojosa-Huerta, O (2009). "Synthesis of ground and remote sensing data for monitoring ecosystem functions in the Colorado River Delta, Mexico". REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT, 113(7), 1473-1485.

The delta of the Colorado River in Mexico supports a rich mix of estuarine, wetland and riparian ecosystems that provide habitat for over 350 species of birds as well as fish, marine mammals, and other wildlife. An important part of the delta ecosystem is the riparian corridor, which is supported by agricultural return flows and waste spills of water originating in the U.S. and Mexico. These flows may be curtailed in the future due to climate change and changing land use practices (out-of-basin water transfers, increased agricultural efficiency, and more optimal management of dams) in the U.S. and Mexico, and resource managers need to monitor the effects of their water management practices on these ecosystems. We developed ground-validated, remote sensing methods to monitor the vegetation status, habitat value, and water use of wetland and riparian ecosystems using multi-temporal, multi-resolution images. The integrated methodology allowed us to project species composition, leaf area index, fractional cover, habitat value, and evapotranspiration over seasons and years throughout the delta, in response to variable water flows from the U.S. to Mexico. Waste spills of water from the U.S. have regenerated native cottonwood and willow trees in the riparian corridor and created backwater and marsh areas that support birds and other wildlife. However, the main source of water supporting the riparian vegetation is the regional aquifer recharged by underflow from U.S. and Mexico irrigation districts. Native trees have a short half-life in the riparian zone due to human-set fires and harvesting for timber. Active management, monitoring, and restoration programs are needed to maintain the habitat value of this ecosystem for the future. Published by Elsevier Inc.



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