SERDP 2015 Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Climate Change

(Initially Released December 7, 2015) Intermittent and ephemeral streams play a significant role in supporting the ecological diversity in the southwestern U.S., where numerous military installations and ranges are located. Long-term use of these sites by the military is, in part, dependent on the ability to maintain the continued ecological functioning of the land base in this region, where dryland streams provide critical habitat and population connectivity for obligatory aquatic species. Improvements in the fundamental understanding of the links between hydrologic and ecological processes in arid and semi-arid environments will aid resource managers in the proactive conservation of species at risk and their habitats on and around Department of Defense (DoD) installations.

A SERDP-funded project led by Dr. Julian Olden of the University of Washington and Dr. David Lytle of Oregon State University examined how hydrology, hydrologic connectivity, and other riverine characteristics influence the community structure and population genetics of amphibian and aquatic insect species on Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and in the surrounding Sky Island mountain ranges. By employing field studies, quantitative modeling in relation to hydrology, riparian vegetation, and geomorphology, and innovative molecular genetics, the project team quantified stream characteristics at multiple spatial scales and showed how aquatic species with different life-history strategies (e.g., good disperser versus poor disperser) respond to dryland stream ecosystems in the Southwest.

Dr. Olden and Dr. Lytle, together with their project team, provided key ecological information on ephemeral and intermittent stream ecosystems that contain most of the biodiversity in the southwestern U.S. and for which DoD has significant management responsibility. These results will not only help DoD managers better conserve this biodiversity today, but also in the future under a changing climate.

For this important work, Dr. Olden and Dr. Lytle and their project teams received the 2015 SERDP Project-of-the-Year Award for Resource Conservation and Climate Change. Project Overview

  Project Team

University of Washington

  • Dr. Julian Olden
  • Dr. Kristin Jaeger
  • Dr. Meryl Mims

Oregon State University

  • Dr. David Lytle
  • Dr. Michael Bogan
  • Dr. Kate Boersma
  • Ms. Emily Hartfield Kirk
  • Dr. Ivan Phillipsen