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  • ELWHA RIVER VALLEY BIODIVERSITY
    their bodies will be returned to the forest along 113 km of wild river Several hundred thousand salmon will eventually repopulate the river annually bringing a huge quantity of nutrients that will permeate throughout the ecosystem Because all of the water above the upper dam is in the ONP these ecological changes will be available for long term study without the confounding influences of human disturbance that are common in virtually all other river restoration projects Thus the Elwha dams by far the largest ever to be removed constitute a unique opportunity to study the recovery of a riparian ecosystem with profound implications for the value of dam removal elsewhere as a general conservation strategy A large scale long term biotic survey and inventory of the Elwha River Valley has been initiated focusing on microorganisms lichens mosses liverworts fungi insects and spiders taxa that are least known and most vulnerable to change when the dams are removed that inhabit the riparian habitat above between and below the two dams Although only 130 km from Seattle the Elwha biota is poorly known very little non vascular plant and invertebrate collecting has ever been done and most of what has been collected has been lost or discarded leaving few voucher specimens to back up the inadequate body of published taxonomic information The work described here will correct these deficiencies by bringing together professional taxonomists and an assemblage of agency tribal academic and citizen scientists to collect identify inventory and permanently archive the current mix of non vascular plants and invertebrates of the Elwha before the dams are removed Dam removals are increasingly viewed as a means of restoring riverine ecosystems especially in the Pacific Northwest where salmon stocks are seriously depleted and many rivers are closed to fish migration The Elwha project

    Original URL path: http://biology.burke.washington.edu/elwha/ (2014-09-18)
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