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Sustainability Events

Arizona Riparian Council Series: Wetland Habitat Conservation in Southern Arizona

Andrew Salywon

  • Research Botanist and Herbarium Curator, Desert Botanical Garden

Freshwater wetlands are one of the rarest and most endangered habitats in Arizona. Historic and current anthropogenic activities, especially those leading to groundwater decline, have had significant negative effects on wetlands in the southwestern U.S. The ecosystem services provided by wetlands include flood control, groundwater recharge, sediment and nutrient retention, and water purification, in addition to providing critical habitat for many rare species of plants and animals. Therefore, protecting and restoring wetlands results in significant water quality and ecological benefits. In order to monitor, restore and protect wetlands, essential baseline information must be gathered to provide quantifiable data to document change in these habitats. This presentation will focus on two study areas in southern Arizona with different conservation challenges. Andrew will present data characterizing the basic hydrology and ecology of the wetlands of Las Cienegas National Conservation Area using GIS mapping, water stable isotope chemistry, and wildlife camera data. He will also present on recent restoration work funded with a grant from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Water Quality Improvement Grant Program, to increase the wetland vegetation/natural filtering capacity of the O’Donnell Creek Cienega for the pollutants E. coli and sediment originating from active pastures upstream.

Andrew Salywon is a research botanist and the herbarium curator at the Desert Botanical Garden. His main research focus is plant systematics of agaves and cacti but his interest in rare and endangered plants in Arizona, especially the Canelo Hills ladies’ tresses orchid (Spiranthes delitescens), have driven his pursuit to conserve wetland habitats and the unique plants they contain. Andrew conducts basic and applied research on wetlands in southern Arizona with academic, governmental and non-profit collaborators.

The Speaker Series is co-sponsored by the Biodiversity Knowledge Integration Center, Arizona State University.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.